As I was driving around today, picking up new bikes for my kids I purchased from other people whose kids had outgrown them, I started to tear up hoping they’d like the bikes because their dad just went out and bought them each new $200 mountain bikes.
My ex and I have very different ideas when it comes to raising kids and how to show love.
When my kids ask for something, he says yes. If it’s not a birthday, holiday or need, I typically say no. I’m the jerk parent.
They visit the Nike store regularly and the girls have so many Nike sweatshirts and tennis shoes, it’s ridiculous. Here they get excited about our consignment store “binge purchases” where they each spend $60 and receive roughly 14 new (name brand) outfits each.
When they want to watch, read or try something new, he buys it. At my house we try the library, dollar store and finally consignment shops first for ideas.
When my 11 year old loses her lunch box, he buys her a new one immediately. I would’ve had her brown bag it for a few weeks in hopes she learns to take better care of her belongings or at least look harder for them. I’m the jerk parent.
He does all the expensive and extravagant vacations. I believe kids can have fun on road trips to wherever and make your own nachos in the kitchenette after a day on the beach. (And I was right on that one, we had a blast.)
This doesn’t mean that his versions are any more right or wrong than mine, but if he’s going to choose all the expensive ones, then I’ll gladly chose the lesser to keep my kids feet on the ground.
I hope to help them understand that shiny and brand new does not always mean it works or looks better. Wearing the latest thing or name, means nothing. I just recently bought a cute, flowy shirt from Rite Aid for $8 (Yes! Rite Aid), and I had so many compliments on it at work and no one could believe it. My girls thought it was hysterical.
So I get to be the jerk parent who has to make sure they keep from being spoiled and hopefully have a better understanding of reality and money as they get older. I get to be the parent who says no, write it on a list, sorry you’ll have to go without, you’ll be ok without it, and you could save up for it. I’m ok with that.
As adults, we can’t just walk around randomly asking for everything and receiving it. I wish. So if I have to be the jerk parent who says no, but they become better people for it later, I’m ok with that too.
My kids love me and the amount of time that we spend together coming up with cheap, hair-brained ideas. Our time together and the memories are better than any store could provide. When their Nike sweatshirts and shoes don’t fit anymore, my girls will have all the pictures and memories of how mom did just as great and with so much less.
So cheers to being the jerk parent…some day they’ll get it.
Are you a proud jerk parent?