If there's so much fear and worry, we do we even bother doing it at all, especially my parents?
Growing up with immigrant parents was difficult. They grew up poor and lived through hard times. Although they were extremely cheap to the point of being ridiculous, they claimed they desperately wanted children.
As adults, my siblings and I are still wondering why.
Nearly every basic expense, from school supplies to lunch tickets, were a major fiscal crisis. Birthday party invites were nerve wracking because of the expectation of a gift. Extracurricular activities were hotly debated but begrudgingly paid for. Secondhand clothes were a must even after experiencing the shame of mistakenly wearing the resident Mean Girl's clothes to school.
Lunch tickets were $20. I remember my mother reminding my sister and me to "start in" on my father on the 29th of each month to get him "thinking about" forking over $40 for the next 20 days. (She didn't control any finances.) We would beg and plead while he would demand to know what we were going to do to pay him back. By the time the 31st would roll around, we were frantic. Finally, in a fit of disgust, he would throw $20 bills at each of us. I remember crawling underneath the bed to grab one as I nearly missed the bus. (Years later I would see this same behavior at a strip club and shudder.)
Even the expense of a serious car accident sent my father into fits and concern over his premiums going up. He showed me the $10,000 hospital bill, and it wasn't until years later I learned that he didn't actually pay it, although he had no qualms letting me believe that he did. I felt so much guilt over getting into that accident even though I was only eight.
When I was ten, I remember my parents going over the bills with the usual anxiety. My father started dividing up the cost of the mortgage, utilities, etc. to see how much it cost per child. Then he would tell each one of us how much we cost him that month.
"The only reason I have to do this is because I'm legally obligated to!"
By the time I was in high school, I got a job. Having my own money was such a high. My parents were off my back, and I finally had the freedom of money. I haven't stopped working since then, primarily because I don't want to be a leech.
To be sure, my parents paid for our undergraduate educations and internships, although those checks would occasionally bounce if my father got wind of us having extra cash. Although they complained loudly, our very basic expenses were paid for.
During estate planning, I would learn that not only did they have plenty of money but that there was more than enough. I'm not sure what lesson we were supposed to take away from their parsimonious parenting guide, but I have a lot of resentment on my end. I wish I could go back and tell my seven-year-old self that a new pair of jeans isn't going to bankrupt the entire family.
A few months ago, I asked my mother why they even bothered having kids because when they weren't complaining about our cost they were letting us know how disappointed they were.
"Oh...well...I don't think you really understand your father if you honestly think that," she chucked.
I guess I don't.
I realize that my personal situation is extreme, but it makes me wonder nonetheless. My brother and SIL complain about how their children are SO misbehaved, even though those children are very well-behaved. I hear coworkers being embarrassed about a little drool or a stinky diaper. A friend of mine is charting everything her son does, making sure that anyone who comes near him has written proof of vaccinations.
If we're at the point that we look to Excel to control our lives, then why we do we put ourselves through it? I wonder who even enjoys it.