Listening to other people’s outlook on life is something I’ll always find interesting, when done in a manner that isn’t in the form of an uneducated rant *cough* some of my family’s friends on Facebook *cough.* So when it comes to every week, I am always giddy to hear what the person had to say. Sometimes I’m like, okay – interesting, but hmm – but this week was vastly different. 30-year-old Lauren spent her life provided for. Her parents have never let her go without the basics, but they also have provided her with a good life as she’s gotten older. When she respectfully noted her views on spoiled vs privileged, I had to take a step back and agree. Wonderfully put, she gave me a whole new perspective on the topic at hand this week and now more from Lauren as we talk a parent’s duties, narcissism and more.
Kendra: Would you say you were spoiled growing up?
Lauren: Not particularly, but then again “spoiled” is such a subjective term. I grew up middle class; I was always provided for and never lacked the essential things I needed, but I was a far cry from the rich kid in school. I did not have a giant super sweet 16 party nor was a bought a brand new car when I got my license, but even now at 30, I’ve never known what it’s like to struggle financially because my parent’s have always provided a safety net. Perhaps “privileged” is a more accurate way of putting, “spoiled” has too negative a connotation.
Kendra: Do you believe it’s a parent’s responsibility to take care of their kids for as long as they need the help?
Lauren: No, but I do believe that it’s a parent’s responsibility to financially support their child until the age of 18, or until their kid has graduated high school; you knew when you made the decision to have a child that it would be an 18 year commitment and responsibility. What you decide to do once they’re a legal adult is up to the parent in question, I suppose. Whether you want to cut them off or continue to support them, it’s not my place to comment on it. Until I have kids of my own, I’m not going to understand or pretend to understand what its like to be a parent.
Kendra: Jean Twenge states in Generation Me that each generation is more narcissistic than the last. With that, it made me think she would say that we expect more for ourselves because we view ourselves as more deserving. Can you see some truth in that?
Lauren: What I get out of her statement is that each generation is becoming more self-indulgent, which I agree with, but don’t necessarily think is a bad thing. Young adults are just ‘progressing’ at a slower pace than the generations before them; whether it be still living in your parents house, to starting your career or getting married and having children; our 20’s are now spent as a time for self exploration. I can see how prior generations might call this narcissistic or selfish, as it goes against the conventional standards that they were raised with, but evolution is inevitable and ideas/standards are consistently going to be challenged/reformed.
Maybe we view ourselves as being more deserving in a sense that it’s more common or expected to have a roof over our head and food in our mouths via our parents even once we’ve become young adults, but I still think that if you “expect” something more for yourself or if you’re not happy with what you already have, then its your responsibility to go out and get something more, not your parents.
Kendra: Do you feel having that financial security slowed down your growth process in any way?
Lauren: Yeah, I do. Even though those conventions I mentioned in my previous answer aren’t as black and white as they used to be, I still feel far behind for a person in my age bracket. I didn’t get my degree until quite recently and now I am working a minimum wage restaurant job in order to make my rent and pay my bills. Though I should be focusing on that fact that I am (albeit at a snails pace) becoming financially independent and learning how to take care of myself, I do get insecure about my progress as an adult. I just took my first solo vacation a few weeks ago and paid for the entire thing myself and it felt great, but as it stands, I am still seeking financial help to make every day ends meet and it does make me feel like I’m failing or incompetent at being an “adult.”
Lauren: It’s really hard to say. It could’ve motivated me to become self sufficient a lot sooner, or my life could’ve gone in a completely different direction because I might have placed more importance on making money rather than taking the better half of my 20’s to get through school, trying a bunch of things out until I found my niche. It’s not lost on me the advantages and luxuries I’ve been afforded coming from a “privileged” household, I do not take it for granted.
Kendra: Looking forward, how do you think you’ll be with your kids in the future when it comes to finances and such when they’re grown?
Lauren: I think I’ll be really similar to my parents in that I plan on supporting them as best as I can; I want them to have a roof over their head and food in their mouths, I want to be able to enroll them in after school programs that will help them grow and feed their passions, I want them to have a sturdy pair a shoes and a good winter jacket…all of the things I had growing up. If they want extra things, they’ll be expected to work for them, either by doing well in school or getting a part time job depending on their age. One of the ways we were spoiled growing up was through concert tickets, and you better believe I’ll never forget the time I didn’t get to go to a Britney Spears concert because my grades at the time were below subpar.
And if my kids reach young adulthood and are still trying to figure things out and need my financial help, I hope that I will be able to find a balance of being able to support them without crippling them in the process. I think I’ll be different from my parents in that I don’t want to use money as a means to make my child dependent on me. Sometimes I think a said parent of mine likes still being able to help “take care” of me because they’re afraid there will be a day when I no longer need them to, which is false because I will always emotionally need and depend on my parents. You’re supposed to suffer with finances as a young adult, it teaches you responsibility and helps build character, and I don’t want that to be stunted or come as late in life for my children as it did for me.
Lauren: High: I feel that most of my “privilege-ness” has come later in life, as my parents have advanced in their careers and thus the entire family has reaped the benefits. Those benefits present themselves in the form of concert tickets, vacations, nice dinners and even though it sounds bratty, knowing that I have that safety net there, though I refuse to use it as a crutch and as a reason to not move forward in my own life.
Low: Stigma. Which I realize is a small price to pay, but it’s hurtful when people use you as an example of something negative or what not to be. It discredits everything I have done in my life, and I’ve overcome a lot of odds and have found success in my own ways, but people rarely focus on that. As mentioned, I am also looking forward to the day when I can wake up and actually feel like an adult who can fully take care of herself.