“Over-parenting or fostering dependence, as she describes bailout behavior, has the potential to undermine children’s personal confidence and robs them of the grit they’ll need to succeed in the real world, after they’ve left the safe bubble of home.”
I will tell you, I never remember my parents bringing something I forgot to school. They were at work, at one point in elementary school my mom was teaching at my very school. She was not going to leave to bring something I forgot. As my dad would have told me: “Tough luck.” He was not going to go out of his way to take care of things that were mine to remember. That was my responsibility. He never thought of it as “letting me fail.” He just knew I would learn the hard way to remember — whatever the consequences of my choices.
We are a culture of success. We want everything to be perfect, dialed, and done right the first time.
My father ingrained it into us as kids “do it right the first time.” I do not know if that was ingrained in him as a kid or if it was after being in the military, but he was hard-core and would often yell if we did things (mostly chores) and our results were not up to his standard. Imagine over time knowing that if it was not perfect the first time — you would receive his anger and frustration. Yet, it meant that we only learned to fail with negative consequences.
When I heard about Pema Chodron’s book: “Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown” I knew I had to read it. It is the transcription of her 2014 commencement address at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Her granddaughter is in the graduating class. It is a quick read (a book with text on only the right side pages, and small, so it can be read in less than an hour), but a powerful message.
I love this idea she shares:
“‘Fail better’ means you being to have the ability to hold what I called in the talk ‘the rawness of vulnerability’ in your heart, and see it as your connection with other human beings and as part of humanness. Failing better means when these things happen in your life, they become a source of growth, a source of forward, a source of, as I say in the talk, ‘out of that place of rawness you can really communicate genuinely with other people’.” Page 115
To think about failing and being vulnerable — that is where we learn. There is so much I can take from this in work and home life, and especially with this ‘lil man that is going to soon join us. I vow to let my son learn in his own way, fail, and be vulnerable. Hopefully it means he will not have the message that has haunted me for years — that I always had to do it right the first time.
This week, Chris and I were pondering the last 12+ years and how we know when we feel settled with decisions. Sometimes we know right away and other times it takes a bit longer for the decision to feel right. Sometimes he knows so clearly, and sometimes it is me. It really depends on what the decision is, how big it is, how costly and its impact on our lives.
A plane ticket: I will not purchase it until it feels right to me. I have had quite a few occasions when the trip changed drastically, and I saved a lot of change fees because I had waited to purchase the ticket.
Furniture or large house items: Usually I am not as picky as Chris is – I know when I like something and I know when I do not like it, but we have a rule that we both need to like, want, and appreciate it before we make a large purchase. Sometimes I can push the envelope a bit and continue to show him different options because I am not set on his choice. Other times all the other options still lead us back to our original choice.
Large financial decisions: These always get me to slow down to a snail’s pace. I hate spending money, and even though not all financial decisions are spending money — they could be about investing money. I still want to look at it front and back and all angles to make sure we are making the smartest choice. Nothing wrong with that.
Food: If I know I do not want something I voice it, but generally, I just want Chris to decide on food. If something sounds amazing, I will state that, and whatever sounds nasty I will state that too, but I have way to many other decisions to make in my day, the last one I care about is food!
What I find interesting — on most things at work I know fairly quickly what feels right to me, but at home I tend to hem and haw about decisions. Maybe because it might be a large purchase, or a decision that is extremely permanent. Maybe it is also because Chris and I always make our decisions together. Regardless of whether the decision is at home or work, it is always important to feel settled, happy, and content with your decision. You have to live with it and the consequences.
Did you ever have a financial role model growing up? I did not. I had “learn-from-my-mistakes” role models, in that I decided I never wanted to live in the way that I grew up and made a voracious effort to work my ass off and live frugally in order for that to never happen. Some days Chris asks me if I am still on that road and if I will ever slow down and realize I can chill a bit.
It is an interesting conversation (well maybe to me). Who impacted how you view money? Did you ever have a financial role model? Did you grow up watching Suze Orman on TV telling you when you might be DENIED? Were you given everything, and never taught that money does not grow on trees, and that there are consequences to racking up a crazy amount of credit card debt in the tune of never freeing yourself from the monthly payments? Or, did you learn how to know about your net worth, an emergency fund, and the importance of your credit score? Additionally, that your credit score can also be a causing factor in getting a job or not?
Money and finances are a reoccurring blog topic for me. Somehow over time money and sex seem to be taboo topics. No one really wants to talk about either. And, yet “Fifty Shades of Grey” became a mainstream movie (not without some backlash) what will be the movie about money that potentially starts the conversation amongst us? Somehow I think that movie will not be of much interest to the masses. Yet, how do we actually shift the world to start taking care of itself?
This recent Daily Worth article shares one woman’s experience and what she learned from her dad, or…like me what she learned not to do. Her dad is now retired and has to live on a fixed income. The potential for many who do not plan accordingly for the future, save, and approach retirement in a way that allows you to really “retire.” Chris and I look at today and what we save as a way to prepare for our future. For a time when we hope to have been savvy enough to find a point in time when we can make the choice for ourselves rather than be forced to work past relevancy. That way we can pamper our family and truly enjoy life.
We all have to start somewhere, but somehow I think many just never start. Or maybe it starts with who our financial role models are and what they teach us about today, tomorrow, and the future.
I am someone who has incredibly high expectations. I am not sure when in my life it happened that my standards became so high. I was joking with a few colleagues the other day about how I was raised and how my dad used to vehemently remind us to do it right the first time. I know there are many ways of looking at the world, and that making mistakes is one where we learn the most. That, however, was not how I was raised. I distinctly remember a few specific examples. One time my sister and I were asked to clean our room (we shared a room). We cleaned it, but not to my dad’s standards. When we got home from wherever we were that afternoon, we walked into our room and found every drawer of our respective dressers empty, and every desk drawer empty, and the contents of our shared closet all sat in a massive mixed pile in the middle of the room. I remember him barking some sort of comment to us: “Maybe next time you’ll do it right the first time.”
I was horrified. I do not remember how long it took us to clean it up, or what my sister and I discussed during the process, but I will never forget what my room looked like that day. Now, I can think about a million other ways to get through to kids, and whether my dad was right or wrong, he was definitely creative about getting our attention. He also was a bit scary. I do think his “get it right the first time” mantra in some ways made me use problem solving tactics and critical thinking skills at an early age. You see, my dad could turn a million different ways and I had to be prepared for it, so I thought: “if I do this, what will be the outcome?” or “how about if I do that?” I was not always so savvy to be prepared for how he might react, but I was definitely aware of the consequences of my actions. Never mind that I probably should have just been out playing.
There was another occasion when it was my chore to scrub the bathtub, specifically the soap scum ring. On one occasion when my dad inspected the bathtub (it was a pink bathtub too), to see if it passed his inspection, he decided it was not clean enough and that I needed to start again. In order to ensure I would have to clean the entire bathtub again (and not just work on the soap scum) he poured ketchup into the tub. Again I was horrified. I just wanted him to show me where I missed a spot, and give me a chance to fix it. Starting again felt so unfair. Maybe that is why I detest cleaning the shower/bathtub (thank you Chris).
Did my dad ingrain in me the desire for higher standards? Maybe. Did he know he was doing it? I do not think so. I think I am a by-product of finding creative ways of knowing I had dotted all my i’s and crossed my t’s. I had a backup plan for my backup plan. My brain constantly looks for all the different scenarios and which ones to stay away from and which ones lead to the best possible scenario. It has helped me at home and in my professional life. There are way better ways to teach critical thinking skills and to learn consequences for different choices. I will not be passing on the ways of my father.