Letting go of expectations opens the world up to unlimited possibilities. Should we live in a small town on a huge piece of land for ultimate privacy? Should we travel the country in an RV? Should we rent small apartments our entire lives for total flexibility?
The problem is that while the 2 of us feel independently free, our worlds get turned upside down when we think of having kids.
First of all, we want our kids to have at least the same opportunities we had. My husband and I grew up in the suburbs and went to fabulous public schools. We got great educations and we're both gainfully employed. While I personally would like to live in the northern Midwest where my parents have a cabin, the schools are quite poor and that doesn't feel fair to us. We have toyed with the idea, wondering if parental involvement and online classes could help to bridge the gap, but so far we still feel uncomfortable with something we consider so important.
Secondly, we had pretty typical, if not ideal, childhoods. We weren't spoiled per say but we lived in upper middle class communities. I never felt like I had less than any other kids, and in a way I feel obligated to provide that for my kids as well. But I will also say that having your parents feel financially secure is perhaps one of the greatest gifts you can give your children, so I don't feel at all tempted to uproot our security to make sure our kids have designer jeans. But I do feel sensitive to making them feel like they have less than other kids, and sometimes even toy with the idea of buying an awesome home with a decked out basement with the hopes that my kids would have the "fun house" that all the other kids wanted to hang out at.
However, we need to have our priorities in order, which at this point are (and may change once we actually have kids):
- Security for our family
- Investments in our children's future
- Raising happy healthy kids
To that end, we need to make sure they learn how to budget and spend wisely. Giving them everything they want may seem like we're making them happy, but we're really handicapping them for the future. I must keep this in mind when I have difficulty saying "no."
And we must let go of the guilt that we feel when thinking of raising our kids in a more frugal environment. I was very lucky that my parents really emphasized that I was special and talented, and that fitting in wasn't important in the least. I'm hopeful that we can pass on those same feelings to our future kiddos so that they feel happy and confident in who they are regardless of where they live and what they're wearing.