Now that my children are at the stage where they were moving away to pursue their own adult lives, I find myself having moments where I am absolutely consumed with regret. We never went to Disney World.
Throughout their upbringing, my husband and I have been conservative in our spending. Living within our means and carefully managing our money is something that we have taken very seriously but this lifestyle has come at a cost.
We never took our children to the nation's capital. We didn't throw lavish birthday parties as they were growing up nor did we go overboard at Christmas. We were limited in the sports we could offer them, since we relied on second hand equipment. Out of town competitions and frequent movie theatre visits were unaffordable.
I don't recall my children ever complaining but I was acutely aware that they were never in the lead group. They were never able to brag about a fancy new toy or describe a scene from a new movie. Nor could they join in a conversation as others relived their latest sporting adventure. Watching my children stand quiet and listen was humbling to me.
It's not that we didn't have any family fun, or indulge our children to some extent, we were just always very careful to watch our finances. Family vacations consisted of simple tenting for a few days and, when money was tight, many of our "vacations" were just one day excursions. Birthday and Christmas gifts were limited to one special gift, along with other necessities such as socks or mitts. DVDs were rented for at home movie nights. Yet even with these sensible and acceptable memories, my regrets still get the better of me.
One day, my son laid out his plan to pay down his 5 year car loan ahead of time. Over the next few months, I watched as he carefully managed his money and succeeded in paying his loan off in just over a year! Seeing the result of our thriftiness in my son's actions was astonishing and I have begun to appreciate the value of our lifestyle. We provided all that was needed for our children - a loving home, and in doing so, we prepared them for the money challenges they will encounter in their lives.
We all have a Disney World. We all feel the pull to involve our children in the numerous activities society recommends regardless of our financial situations but this can lead to serious consequences.
At times my regrets haunt me but when I see my daughter's reluctance to spend money as she works her way through university or listen to my son's financial plan for purchasing a piece of property, they quickly disappear.
Perhaps showing our children how to use their money wisely is our greatest accomplishment as parents and any regrets are dwarfed by the comfort of knowing our children will not be fools with their money.
Disney World can wait.
Source: Just a reflection as my kids become adults.
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Tough economic times can be especially difficult for families. This page offers advice for parents during tough economic times.