Give chil­dren re­spon­si­bil­ity as you raise them

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - Carolyn Hax Tell Me About It is writ­ten by Carolyn Hax ofthe Washington Post. Her col­umn ap­pears on Tues­day, Thurs­day and Satur­day. Email her at tellme@wash­

Dear Carolyn: My hus­band and I both come from very un­der­priv­i­leged back­grounds. Thanks to hard work and some in­cred­i­ble men­tors, we were the first in our fam­i­lies to grad­u­ate from high school. We at­tended the same Ivy League univer­sity, and now have grad­u­ate de­grees and amaz­ing jobs in our fields.

While we were stu­dents, we worked 30-plus hours a week at food-ser­vice jobs just to scrape by. The few hours a week we had out­side of work and classes to study or sleep felt like a god­send. It’s not pleas­ant to ad­mit it, but we both felt really re­sent­ful of so many of our class­mates, whose checks for tuition and liv­ing ex­penses seemed to fall from the sky.

Our prob­lem is this: While we’d both love to start a fam­ily, we’re ter­ri­fied to do so. We’re now in a po­si­tion where we could af­ford to send our chil­dren to pri­vate schools, to pay for col­lege, to go on va­ca­tions, to do all the things we didn’t get to do when we were kids. And while it sounds like a dream to be able to give our chil­dren the world on a plat­ter, we’re ter­ri­fied our kids would turn out to be the same kind of en­ti­tled brats we so re­sented when we were stu­dents.

Would it be fair to raise kids the same way we were raised, even if it means they might have few priv­i­leges com­pared to their peers? — R.

Dear R.: Your hard­ship was gen­uine. Any in­gratepre­ven­tive hard­ship sys­tem you con­struct for your kids will be ar­ti­fi­cial.

How would you have felt those late nights over a pile of dishes had you known your par­ents were home rest­ing their heads on fluffy pil­lows of cash?

There are ways be­sides ma­te­rial de­pri­va­tion to raise kids who aren’t jerks. You can make it clear early on that you’ll buy them the ba­sics and they can save their al­lowance/get jobs to buy lux­u­ries.

Don’t make your kids suf­fer; just make sense. Talk to your hus­band about what kind of par­ents your cir­cum­stances al­low you to be, good and bad, then shoot for the good.

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