If you’re reading this, you know there are copious downsides to financial strifes. Some days, you don’t know how your family will eat. You have to tell your kids you can’t get them their favorite snack for school this week.
You can just barely drive to your mom’s house because you don’t have money for gas. You can’t get together with friends because you don’t like showing up empty-handed, but you can’t spare money for drinks or even a bag of chips.
You haven’t paid your credit card in a couple of months. You’re thinking of telling your oldest daughter that you have to cancel her phone service. The laundry is piling up because you can’t purchase detergent, and your heart sinks when you notice you’re running out of toilet paper.
Your biggest worry, however, is your children.
What’s going through their minds?
Do they hate you?
Do they resent you for borrowing their birthday money because they know you won’t pay them back immediately?
Are you setting a bad example?
Are they just as stressed?
As the “child” of parents who’ve struggled financially for about half of my lifetime, I can answer these questions for you. My three siblings and I have felt the same anger, sadness, and stress about my parent’s financial troubles.
I’ll be completely honest with you. Sometimes, I get angry, I resent my parents, or I feel like crying my lungs outs.
Still, despite how difficult the lack of money has made our lives, I wouldn’t trade these years for a million dollars. (That’s saying a lot.)
My siblings (aged twenty, seventeen, and eleven) and I wouldn’t be who we were without these strains. I like to think we came out pretty great.
We came out better because of it.
1. We’re determined to work hard
You’re not setting a bad example for your children because you don’t have much money.
If anything, struggling has forged a determination and work ethic in my siblings and me.
We never want to end up in this place when we’re older. We have a drive to be the best we can be, and earn the most we can earn.
Considering we’re all pursuing unconventional career paths (writing, art, and baking), that spark of persistence — and the desire to avoid financial strifes — will take us far.
It’s likely the same will happen with your kids. Sure, these situations suck right now, but in the long-run, your children will realize it was a blessing in disguise.
2. We’re not easily defeated
My dad has pursued a number of different ventures in the past eleven or twelve years. He’s “failed” to succeed in every one.
If there’s anyone who will teach their kids about resistance and persistence, it’s a parent who barely has enough money to get by.
We’re not embarrassed, disappointed, or angry with our dad. We’re in awe of his determination. If in a decade, he tried and tried and never gave in, then how could we ever quit when our lives and careers inevitably become too difficult?
Your hard work, despite the results, is motivating. You’re not a disappointment to your children. You’re an inspiration.
3. You’re teaching your kids selflessness
There have been moments when I was angry or annoyed with my parents for borrowing my money, especially if I had plans to spend it.
However, there are more moments when my siblings and I jump in without hesitance to pay for a meal or gas.
It’s stressful sometimes. However, if Ayodeji Awosika’s book Real Help, which will be available on January 14th, has taught me anything it’s that I have to deal with it.
Rather than complaining, we’ll look for ways to earn more money.
We understand the struggle, and we’re lucky enough to have money in the bank — why wouldn’t we offer it to help? Being in this position will likely teach your kids selflessness and to help those who need it out of the kindness in their hearts.
4. If you’re forging your own path, your kids might want to follow suit
My dad hasn’t had what people call a “real” job in years. You’d think my siblings and I would want those jobs knowing how unsteady unconventional career paths can be.
Why wouldn’t we go to college to become dentists and psychologists?
My dad might be stressed, but at least he doesn’t hate what he does. He loves drawing, and he spends hours working. We know he would be miserable at a regular job, and doing what he likes despite struggling to earn money from it is what we prefer he do anyway.
If you’re trying to create your own business, writing on Medium, or running an Etsy shop — and failing to make a living — you might be setting your children a better example. My siblings and I would rather do what we loved and struggled than work a job we despised for money.
I count that as a win.
Financial struggles are hard to deal with. As I said, there are a lot of downsides, but it’s likely you don’t need to worry about your kids as much as you think.
Your kids will be pissed at you sometimes. I can promise you that. However, they’ll also learn to respect you in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise.
As long as you never give up, then you’re doing your job.
Remember this: You’re a good parent. I know you may not feel like it when your kid’s talking about the toy everyone has that you can’t afford for him, but you are.
Tell your kid you love them. Tell them how proud you are of them. Spend time with them. At the end of the day, that’s what matters the most.
Give your work your all, and hopefully, someday soon, you earn what you worked for.