"It's Expensive To Be A Parent!" - Says My 11yo Son

It was a weekend when after my 11 year old son, Dandre, came from his summer sports clinic, we rushed to enroll the younger one as Kinder i...

It was a weekend when after my 11 year old son, Dandre, came from his summer sports clinic, we rushed to enroll the younger one as Kinder in his school.  He was quiet as he tagged along with me and his brother to the Principal’s office.  I pulled out cash from my wallet in 1000 and 500 denomination and paid the tuition fee.  We went home right away after the enrollment.

That same night, while washing the dishes, he came up to me.  I knew in my heart he wanted to say something.  I was already thinking these topics: girl problem, peer pressure, tween fashion, birthday wish list, and other requests he may have in mind.  I was waiting for him to speak up as I glanced at him every now and then.

Until he called me, "Mommy po."

"Yes?" I asked lovingly.

"Ang mahal pala maging magulang po no?"

"Oh yes!  What made you say that?"

"Imagine, you have to pay for my tuition fee and then Wes' tuition fee.  That's already thousands and thousands and thousands mommy.  Then you have to buy us books, uniforms, school supplies.  Then you also have to pay the bills and buy our food everyday.  Plus you also take care of lolo.  Grabe Mommy!  How do you do it?  I mean, it's so expensive gosh!"

I was stunned.  I stopped with what I was doing and had to pay attention to this AHA moment of my son.  I would like to believe, at that very moment, that it's not usual for a tweener to come to his/her parent and talk about his realizations about parenting and taking care of the household and school expenses.

So I asked, "So now you know it really isn't easy to send you my loves to school and pay for all the bills, what do you think you could do to help?"  I asked that because I want to draw out more from him.  I want to squeeze his thoughts and what's in his heart, and know what's inside him.

He came up with this list:
  1. I will really study well na po (not that he wasn't but maybe take his studies more seriously was what he meant.).
  2. I will do my best all the time in everything I do.   (Go please anak, because you will shine if you aim to give your best and not aim for the recognition alone.  The recognition will always follow!)
  3. I will save some from the baon you will give me.  (I taught him to split his savings to Pure Savings, Extra Expenses, and for Charity.)
  4. I will work hard for what I want to have (basketball shoes, scooter, skateboard, clothes, etc.). 
  5. I will help you take care of my brother (because when I'm home, I do not depend on the yaya at all, especially when we go out on weekends.)
  6. I will also give importance to the lessons you enroll me in, like my basketball and maybe voice too. (Oh yes, hindi biro ang mga summer classes na yan anak!  Mag-varsity ka pag-HS and College na!  Yun ang goal natin!)
  7. I'll put to good use po mommy the skills/talents I have.  (Yes, there's money in human potential anak!  You'll learn how to monetize your passion, I'll teach you!)
  8. I'll turn off the gadgets/appliances not in use so we could save on our electric bill.  Maybe, I'll just sleep in your room while it's still summer break, so no additional lights or fans will be on the whole night.
To tell you honestly, I didn't expect this from him, at all!  He's a boy and I expected his focus to be on his friends, his extra-curricular activities, his games, and his phone.  I underestimated him, bad bad mommy, I thought of myself.  But there's this joyful feeling inside for what I was hearing him say that night.  How did that happen?  How did he process those thoughts?  I guess I must be doing something right with how I teach him about financial responsibilities.

These are some of the things I teach him, (which I do not claim to be an expert advice, but it worked for us):
  1. You are rewarded for your good deeds.  My son had a good boy points book when he was young as five all the way until he was eight.  Every good point is equivalent to P1.00.  Every P100.00 he earns by doing good, he could redeem a prize.  He used to collect Hot Wheels.  He had collected over 100 Hot Wheels which now my bunso plays with.
  2. You don't always get what you WANT, you have to work for it.  I want to teach him that whatever we spend for ourselves, for them and for our home came from hard work.  Mom and Dad have to go to office everyday to be able give them the best we could.  It's a cause and effect thing.  We have good jobs because we worked hard for it.  By working hard for it, that meant, we studied well.  So we in return we encourage him to study well too.  Not be the BEST in class, not to pressure him to bring home medals, but to do his BEST all the time because the recognition will always follow.
  3. Always value what you have, clothes, education, toys, gadgets, accessories, our house, etc, because not every kid is as fortunate as you are.  We teach him the value of gratitude and humility.  We also expose him to some charitable works we do every now and then so he would know how to help other people and appreciate what he has.
  4. You don't always have to have what your friends currently have.  It's okay to admire but not envy.  We tell him, there will always be other kids who will have more stuff than you.  It's okay to appreciate the things they have but don't let it rule you too much.  I also tell him, maybe he also had a good deed notebook that's why his parents gave him those stuff.  So this in turn encourages him to focus on doing good.
  5. Refrain from borrowing.  If you do because you really need to, make sure you return it in its perfect condition, and with thanks.  I grew up with parents who taught me and my siblings the same thing, so I am teaching this to my children too.  It's better that other people borrow from you than you having to borrow from them.  It's not pride but it's learning how to be content and appreciative of what you have.
  6. If we're out to shop for your stuff, you'll be given a budget.  Decide wisely what you want to purchase, make sure you'll use it.  This teaches him how to choose well for himself, because in the real world, he will be faced with so many life choices and he better always make the right one.  If he doesn't then he has to make it right the next time.
  7. If you have new or expensive stuff, use it.  Don't keep in in the closet or use it on special occasions only.  Some materials break or get destroyed more when you keep them too long in the closet because you're waiting for the occasion.
These are just simple things I have been teaching him since he was four or five years old and now I know what my mom used to tell me.  The earlier and the more we invested on feeding the child all the good stuff, the more it retains in the child's mind.  It's like when he's on his own, there's a small voice talking to him, and that small voice speaks everything you have been teaching him.

I guess, we're reaping right now what we've been sowing.  But I still do pray that this continues until he becomes an adult.  This stage becomes really difficult when he's choosing between doing good or following his independence, which we slowly are giving to him, and happiness.  I'm pleased that the realizations he had about how hard it is to be a parent are processed thoughts of a young man.  It goes beyond the expenses of being a parent, but realizing the hard work we put in in providing them a good education and a safe/healthy and loving environment, will help him grow to become a good man someday.  A man that will be a great pride of his future wife and children.

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Mommy Practicality is a home and lifestyle blog that's about positive, informative, 
inspirational and helpful sharing of life experiences of a working mom 
with topics on motherhood, relationships, events, food, travel, shopping, and finances. 
It hopes to influence moms and women to realize 
that it's possible to live a quality life while choosing a practical lifestyle.

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