Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Do Our Kids Expect Too Much?

A good friend of mine told me about her grown up daughter who is currently house-sharing. She's in her early twenties and not altogether happy at having to share a house with someone in order to halve the costs. She wants her own place. A nice three-bedroom detached house in an up and coming area with all the mod-cons; brand new furniture, quality carpets, new kitchen, new bathroom - everything you'd expect to have if you'd worked hard to achieve it. Just like my friend has done. Just like I have done. And just like you have done.

My friend said, "She doesn't seem to understand that we have a nice house in a good area with quality furnishings and en-suite bathrooms because we've spent twenty-plus years working hard for it. She thinks it'll just come once you've left home. She wants all the things we have now. And she wants them now."

My mum and dad started married life with hardly a penny to their name. My dad was a 'tea-boy' (a fetcher and carrier for those of you who don't know what a tea-boy is) and he worked bloody damned hard to achieve what he did in his short life. His last fifteen years of life were spent building up his own business. We called him JR, not because he was ruthless but because no one dared cross him. His employees respected him, looked up to him, admired him. He kept men and women in a job because they wanted to work. Many of his employees started at the bottom, like he did in the 1960s, and they worked their way up the ladder, achieving promotion and being respected and admired in return.

When I look back at what I had when I left the nest in 1990, it wasn't very much. My dad was in a position to help me out financially and he did, making my life that little bit easier. I moved away to start a new life with my first husband - we got a mortgage on a one-bedroom flat, bought some nice furniture, and between both sets of parents we managed to make our new pad a home.

I didn't expect to have the beautiful 1930s detached house that my mum and dad had then; I didn't expect to have all the fancy Bang & Olufsen technology or the Priory furniture. Their en-suite bathroom was bigger than our flat's bathroom, but that didn't matter. We knew we could never have afforded a house, let alone with an en-suite.

Do young people today expect to move into a plush residence like their parents have? Have their expectations changed to such an extent that the first rung on the ladder will no longer suffice?

16 comments:

  1. Sometimes the problem is that children come along after you've achieved the nice house, good area, etc so they didn't see the struggle. I saw my parents struggle with dad working the taxis in his spare time to pay the mortgage on a tiny place while they built up to a better one, but my daughter has really only known our lovely big, four bedroom detached. I do worry that she will expect more than she has earned at the start.

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    1. I know what you mean there. I do think that's more to do with kids born in the 80s, 90s when things like credit cards and buying on HP became popular - perhaps then parents were able to have more.

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  2. Well, I never grew up with the big house with the ensuite bathrooms, so I never expected it. Of course I used to dream of it (when I married my prince it would all fall into place) but alas, that never happened. So, in my tiny, shoebox, two bedroomed rented house, I brought up my son. And I taught him that he can do better...but to do better he needed to work hard. Yes, they're impatient and they want it all NOW, but that's not such a bad thing; it drives them forward. Dan (my son) is the most hard working and driven 24 year old I have ever met. He's been this way for 4 or 5 years now, when he decided one day that he wasn't going to work for anybody else ever again for peanuts, but set up his own business instead. And that's what he did, and that's what he's still doing. He dreams big and doesn't let anything (not even women) get in his way. He's seen more of the world than I have, lives in a beautiful apartment overlooking the marina in Brighton and aims to own his own house outright within 6 years (when he's 30). Who am I to stop him? The more people want something, the harder they'll work for it. I think the problem comes when kids don't want to improve their situation and are more than happy living in skanky rooms well into their 30s. Let them bitch and moan! They're practically guaranteed to be successful if they do!

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    1. You're a great mum, Elaine, and even though I don't know Dan, I imagine him to be just like you - hard working and ambitious. Having my own business myself (with the farmer) I know how hard it can be at times, and there are days when it's pretty soul destroying. The big house isn't everything is it.

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  3. Crystal, I'm afraid the answer is a disheartening 'yes.' I don't know about the UK (or elsewhere in the U.S., for that matter) but among the people we know with grown kids who want it all right now, parents are afraid NOT to give to them (at THEIR retirement's cost) for fear the kids won't speak to them, ie, shut them out. I've given up suggesting to close friends that they let the 'kids' learn a few lessons the hard way and watch in horror as they keep dipping into retirement funds.

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    1. I've seen that myself, Kittie. Someone I know very well has done more or less the same thing - given up retirement after working all the hours God sends for decades, only to let his child have everything, that he never had. I know we have to do our best but it makes you wonder if that child - and others who get treated like this - do actually appreciate what they have.

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  4. It's the age we live in where everyone thinks the state owes them a grand life. When my parents married just after the war, they lived apart for nearly 4 years until they could get rented accommodation together. They went on a council housing waiting list as soon as they were married but were still on it 8 years later and my dad meanwhile had two jobs - one during the day and one in the evening - to save up for a mortgage on his first house. They never did get the council house. There were no benefits and people worked hard to scrimp and save. It's all to easy these days to get free cash and demand wide-screen TVs, washing machines and fridges as a minimum right. And people still think they're hard done by.

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    1. That must have been really hard for your parents to live apart. How times have changed, Addy. I know so many people who think they're hard done by yet drive around in 4x4s and always have enough money to spend down the pub, on holidays and buying fancy clothes.

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  5. That is a very good question. I think it is all about the way we raise our kids. Our Isabelle is 6 years old, but I have already been telling her that buying a house or a car means mummy and daddy have to be working very hard for it and that it does not happen over night, but takes years. Sometimes she does not want to do her homework, but then I expalin that that is "her job", like mummy and daddy go to work, she has to go to school. I have already strated telling her that if she does not do well at school, her chances of getting not a good job is higher, and that she would not be able to buy all things she would want, nice holidays, etc. I have explained mummy and daddy will alwasy be here to support her, but once she becomes an adult she would have to be supporting her spendings. That was the way I was brought up, and unless we become millionaires, I do not think we will be able to buy her a house or a flat.

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    1. I also think it's about how we raise our kids. Of course, there isn't a wrong or a right way and no one should be judged on how they bring their children up, but once those children become adults and want a place of their own, it seems many want to move into a home that they've just left. And it really isn't feasible in most cases.

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  6. I have to say I disagree with a lot of the comments above. At university currently we are constantly being told by tutors that it will be incredibly hard to get a job, let alone a house. I think young people like to dream of owning a nice three bedroom detached house (as do I), but I think we are doing them a disservice to suggest that they expect it. We bought our first house a year after we married, when I was 21 and had saved for three years. We both worked, but we moved 200 miles to be able to buy a house instead of a flat. Just because I own a house doesn't mean I don't dream of having the kind of home a lottery win would buy. It's good to have aspirations and dreams that you can work hard to achieve.

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    1. I suspect it is very hard to find a job; farming, which is what I know, is virtually impossible to get into unless your family runs a farm - mainly because the money just isn't there to employ people. I agree wholeheartedly; it is important to have dreams and aspirations and I wouldn't knock anyone for that.

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  7. You can't just make a generalisation like that. Some will expect it, some won't. I guess a lot of it is to do with how they have been brought up. If they have had everything handed to them on a plate then of course they are going to expect it. If they have been brought up to understand that these things do not come easily and that if you want something in life you have to work to achieve it, like my daughter has been brought up, then no, they don't expect it. They may WANT it right away, but they understand they can't have it. So, ultimately, it depends on the parents. Like so many things that are bitched about where younger ones are concerned these days!! We as parents need to take responsibility for many things that we don't like about our offspring!!

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    1. I think my post may have come across slightly differently to how I was feeling at the time, Laura, because I didn't mean to generalise at all. I agree, it does depend on how the child has been brought up and I hope, if Amy does ever become independent in adult life, she will not expect to have what we have now, and will somehow work for the things she wants to achieve. Sorry if I offended you, Laura, you know I would never mean to do in a million years x

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  8. I think it all depends on how a child has been brought up. If a child never has to work to achieve anything, then they'll never learn that in order to gain what they want they have to work hard for it. For example, doing chores for pocket money. Unfortunately in this day and age, parents would rather give their children money in exchange for an easy life.
    Growing up I saw my mum struggle financially and always wanted better for myself. Currently I'm in the same position she was, in a small 2 bedroom house having to scrimp and save. However, I am proud of what I have achieved because I have worked hard for it. None of my family have a owning to their name so I have never relied on handouts, I have achieved everything I have through determination.
    If young children and even teens are taught how to work for what they want, I don't think this would be an issue. I dream big, just like everyone else. I would love a house with 3 bedrooms, a huge garden and 2 bathrooms but I know it's not just going to be handed to me.

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  9. As said above if it is handed to them when growing up they will expect it handed to them always. if parents encourage their children to "work" to get something ie helping with dishes to earn pocket money tidy their rooms make beds that sort of thing they will learn you don't get something for nothing. so when leaving school they will already know they need to work to get nice things

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