Images by John 'K'

Life as seen through my lens…

Am I really a bad parent?

There are times when I believe I am anyway, or at least my kids make me feel like I am.
Without going into specifics, we’ve had an interesting time recently, with the taxman making demands for more of my money than I thought I’d have to give him, and as a result, the amount of available cash we have (that is not tied up in equity/property) is fairly low at the moment. In addition, the rent on the house we are living in has just been increased, and while I know I have a bonus and salary increase coming form work in the next month or so, I don’t know exactly how much it will be orexactly when this will come. We are basically living month to month, and with my wife not currently working, things are tighter than I would like.
I’ve fought for the past 20 years to come from a position where we were basically living in massive debt to a situation 2 years ago where we had no debt over and above month to month spending. When we moved to the US last year, we edged back into the world of debt, with the expense of setting up our new life costing more than we had readily available, and so we had to take out some loans (limited in number and amount, but still with an ongoing monthly impact). I also know that by the end of the year we’ll need to find a chunk of money to pay a tax bill back in the UK. We have a safety net in place to cover this, but it will leave our options limited as we move forward.
So my 2nd youngest daughter has her 17th birthday this week, and she also graduates high school at the end of the week. I’d love to give her something nice to celebrate this, and given we are in America now (which is the land of the car), I thought that she’d appreciate the gift of a car. It’d be second hand, and not the most stunning vehicle around, but it’d go, and be cheap to run, and given she’s not even driving yet, I thought a cheap and economical vehicle would be good for her as 1) she could afford to run it on her limited income, and 2) if it were to get damaged (most new drivers experience some form of accident within a short time of them taking to the roads) the impact (excuse the pun) wouldn’t be huge.
Anyway – we looked at a few options at the weekend, and it seems her expectations are much greater than I am able to deliver on. When I tried to discuss with her the reasons why things are as they are, she shut me out, and as such I get the feeling I am public enemy number 1; just because I won’t buy her the Beatle she really wants.
What she has to realise is that we are not as well off as the families of some of her friends at school, plus she is a year (age wise) below her peers graduating this year. If I had cash to spare, I’d have no problem buying her the car she wants, but I’d also do the same for my other children, and we’d be in our own house (and not renting), and I’d also have nice cars for my wife and I (whereas we are both currently in pre-owned vehicles that do what we need but that are not overly loaded with features/options).
Even getting a cheap car is going to stretch us financially, but I was prepared for that stretch, however it seems that isn’t good enough for her.
One way or another it seems I am a bad parent. Either because I can’t provide what my daughter wants, or because I’ve let my daughter grow up to a point where she can’t see what is really happening and can’t be grateful for what she gets. Either way I have failed her, so I guess yes I am a bad parent. I’d like to think however that my failure is because I haven’t prepared her properly for life in the real world, rather than because I have failed to give her what she wants. More importantly, I’d like her to see it that way.
There’s also another aspect of this, and that is what do I do about the children I have left back in England. I know we paid a lot towards various things for my eldest daughter, so while I would have some guilt there regarding not having given her a car, she’s had a lot of other help/support from us that offsets that. My 2nd eldest however hasn’t had the benefit of that, and having chosen to stay behind in the UK, has been living unsupported in the real world a lot earlier than we would otherwise have planned. I know she’s living rent free, but still has to pay her monthly bills, and hasn’t had the benefit of either what we were able to do for our eldest daughter, or of getting to start afresh like my 2 youngest daughters.
Life is never easy – is it?

One response to “Am I really a bad parent?

  1. evil little monkey June 13, 2006 at 8:26 am

    your are not a bad parent dad, your great and you and mum have done your best.  And you should know as well as the rest of us what sarah can be like when she doesnt get what she wants 🙂  And dont worry about me , im doin ok.  i got another job, (dont know if mum told you) and things are settling down.  im still trying to find out what goin on with the gas bill but apart from that things are good.  Money isnt so tight and things are on the up.  from what you said it seems as though you feel bad that i havent had as much as the others in one way or another, but it was my choice to stay here, and you\’ve helped me out the best you could, i know things are hard for you and mum over there too, so ive not asked for much coz you have enough on your plate, i have a place to live and call home and i thank you so much for it.  and thanks for letting us have the dogs, they are wonderful and i know you\’d like them.  with things going as well as they are here im hoping that i will still be coming to see you over christmas even though the prices are up, which will be great as i miss you loads. 
    love gem xxx

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