Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

Okay, I was going to spare you all from my usual stupid-rich-people rant and not blog about this story, a Times Real Estate feature on parents who "help" their children buy fancy New York apartments. But then I saw that Madame X blogged about it, and she has real class, so I decided to follow suit.

Whenever I read stories like this, about parents giving so much to their children, or meet people who have had extraordinary help from their parents in their adult lives, I get ever so slightly angry. Is it because I'm jealous? Hey, maybe I am. If, upon my graduation from college, I had had a set of rich parents who offered to buy me a studio in the high-rise Manhattan sky, I would not have had to endure nearly as many hardships -- financial and interpersonal -- as I did trying to get here.

On the flip side, if I had acquired that fancy, free apartment...I would not have had to endure nearly as many hardships -- financial and interpersonal -- as I did trying to get here.

Let me explain:

At twentysomething years of age, I have been through deadbeat subleasers, insane roommates, disrespectful roommates, dirty roommates, credit-card debt, three dollars total in my wallet, asshole temporary friends, a move to a strange post-industrial town all for the promise of a short-term job, and general despondency in Jersey while looking across the stretch of the Hudson River at everything I could not have. But I survived. I figured shit out. I saved my pennies. I worked hard. I suffered in silence. I acquired a thicker skin.

But most importantly, I acquired some semblance of self-respect that I don't know that I could acquire otherwise. I call bullshit more often. I don't trust as quickly as I used to. I obsess over my financial accounts. I still choose generic groceries over name-brand products because it just makes good sense. I know in my heart that I got here, mostly* on my own, all the way from a lower-middle-class family smack dab in the middle of Nowheresville, Midwest. That makes me less willing to give it all up, be it for a shaky new job, a man, or a whim when I hear California whispering to me. And it makes me love New York and appreciate good restaurants, diversity, and the way the sun glints off of skyscrapers' windows that much more.

The people I've met who have had a lot of help from their parents? They're worldly in the materialistic ways of the rich but naive when it comes to picking their acquaintances. They spend too much money. They don't quite understand the value of a dollar. They have no backup plan.

But they don't need a backup plan because of their family's money. Unless, of course, something bad happens. But they can't see that, either. Dare I say it, when bad situations arise, they might not have the wherewithal to manage themselves in a time of personal (or financial!) crisis.

It is my view that if I ever have children (God forbid), I will teach them to be independent. That if they fuck up, there will be no hammock woven out of hundred-dollar bills to cradle their fall. That if they spend all their money on booze and coke, there will be no reservoir into which they can dip. That is they can't afford a fancy New York apartment, guess what? They don't get one. Unless, of course, they save their pennies, suffer in silence, work hard, and buy generic groceries, and even then, there is no guarantee.

The downside of working for what you have is that you become just a tad bit bitter.

If you liked this rant, you're gonna love the ones here, here, and here.

*I did have a minimal amount of post-college help from my parents, but we're talking a few hundred dollars when I was working two part-time jobs and was still unable to pay my rent for a month, not a few hundred thousand for a sweet penthouse.

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Blogger Phil said...

Hi Jane,

Well I can't say to much about this because I was not even as well off as you were, I didn't have any college I drove Semi-Truck for a living, I spent a lot of time away from my family as the kids were growing up, hardly ever seen them because the job would keep me on the road for 1 month or up to 2 months at a time then it was 2 to 3 days home and back out on the road.

My job payed me pretty well for my level of education but it still was no picnic not being able to spend as much time with my family.

5:02 PM  
Blogger NewbietoNYC said...

See, now's the time when I feel like a huge jerk because so many people have had it worse than me. Cheers to you, Phil, for sacrificing what you had to in order to provide for your family.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Hi Jane,

Please don't get me wrong, I did what I had to do, but I still don't want you to feel like any jerk, I just did it because I had to. Cheers to you too Jane for your accomplishments.

Look at it this way Jane, you have learned in this period to appreciate what ever it is that you have because you worked hard to get there. There is something to be said for that, not many people can say that. I like you Jane you are a good person.

1:19 AM  
Blogger NewbietoNYC said...

Awww, Phil, now you're getting all mushy on me! Thank you for the compliment.

9:01 AM  

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