A mom’s dream is to always be able to give her kids everything they need, as well as everything they want. Sometimes, being a single parent presents the challenge of being financially unstable. In my case, I basically lived from paycheck to paycheck. At times, I could barely pay rent or keep food on the table. I struggled with the upkeep of my car, which included paying the cost of monthly car insurance, gas, and maintenance. All of this was part of the budget I had to live by. Nothing more and nothing less.
Explaining this type of lifestyle to your children is a challenge in itself. If you really think about it, it doesn’t even come down to a lack of understanding because, at their age, they truly understand. It’s the “I don’t care” syndrome. Basically, they’re saying, “I don’t care, all I see is what I want, and not what you can afford.”
They want to live up to the means of their peers and what they have, no matter the cost. The clothes and the toys they have are their number one priority and nothing else seems to matter. This may put you in a position to not only be judged by society, but also by your kids, possibly putting a strain on your relationship with your children as they get older.
In some ways, they may even start to resent you and make you feel like you’re the worst mom ever. I can identify with this scenario. I allowed myself to feel less than on many occasions because I was looking at what others had based on my children’s wants and started to judge myself. I couldn’t Keep up with the Joneses, so to speak, so therefore I had to be a bad mom.
In one of my personal experiences, I recall my youngest son wanting a certain brand of shoes and name-brand clothing that his friend was wearing. It happened to be way out of my budget. Having that conversation with him regarding this matter should have been such an easy task. I say this because as I mentioned before, his age should have allowed for understanding and being ok with it.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to provide those things for my children. It was the fact that, at the time, I just couldn’t. He only wanted what he wanted, and not caring about the circumstance became a very challenging topic. I explained to him that because we didn’t have that extra help, unlike a family with a mom and dad, we had to prioritize things a little bit differently. We were not able to always get what we wanted. We had to be more focused on our needs.
This wasn’t something I should have allowed myself to feel bad about, especially because their dads weren’t in the picture. This is something I had to figure out on my own. Why couldn’t they just get a grasp of this concept?
At times, I had to use my voice in a manner where I would come across as rude in order to have that authoritative tone and show him that I was the sole provider of this family and the one in charge. “My way or the highway” was the demeanor I didn’t want to portray, but I was left with no other choice.
Informing my kids that I would always do my best as their mother was another conversation we had to have. My youngest son, specifically, needed to know that those brand-name shoes and clothes would not and did not make him a better person than he already was. His character and values make him a good person.
I always tried instilling certain values in my kids and my ultimate goal was that they would latch onto and live by those values and not try to live up to other people’s standards. In my opinion, you could have the biggest bank account possible, the most expensive wardrobe, or the fastest car, and ultimately be the unhappiest person ever. But, if you have family and values, you could potentially be the most satisfied and happiest person there could be. Living within your means is much more comfortable and eventually, before you know it, those things that you oh so wanted may just come to fruition, and you’ll look back and think about all the unnecessary stress you put yourself and your family through. Words of encouragement: Live day by day and not by what Mr. and Mrs. “Jones” have.