A Bit of Unsolicited Advice – off topic

Dear Stay-at-Home-Moms, Work-at-Home-Moms, Earners of less than 50% of the household net income,

I have some unsolicited advice for you. 

I know you scrimp and save, you stretch your dollars to make things work, you put up with things that really don’t work as they should because… because.

 It’s great that you are so careful, that you don’t frivolously fritter away the family’s income, but there is a point at which you can say, stop. This isn’t working for me. We need to find another solution. 

We have a microwave. It’s only 2 years old. It never actually worked right. The door didn’t close easily, and so it would need to be slammed shut. Eventually, the power supply to the microwave started acting up. You’d have to jiggle the power cable or hit the side to make it work. But I always got it to work, so we soldiered on. We tested and replaced the outlet, in case that was the issue. Moved it to a different circuit (behaved slightly better for a few days, then started acting up again). 

For the last month or so, it’s been getting worse. To the point that I can’t rely on it to heat food. I’ll put food in a few minutes before I need to heat it, slam the door closed (now the power is off), and hope that it decides to wake up again before I need it, slamming the side or jiggling the cord every now & then to see if it decides to cooperate. 

On Tuesday, we had a babysitter here, and I flat-out told her to avoid the microwave. It can’t be trusted and may in fact be dangerous. 

Today, feeling guilty for our bad purchase 2 years ago or for squandering our money for not getting it checked out when it first started acting up (before the warranty expired), I ordered a new microwave. 

We have a cesspool. The first few years living in our home, we had it serviced once. $400. They told us we needed to upgrade from our 1961 system to a newer, more sturdy one. We didn’t want to spend the money or tear up the lawn, so the next time we had issues, I called a different company. Another $400, and the same story. We needed to replace our pool. 

Fast forward to last year. Company comes in spring. We have issues. $400. Company comes in fall. We have issues. $150. More company comes. $400. And it still needs to be replaced.

Then, this January, we have another issue. We finally are on the same page and get our cesspools replaced. After literally throwing thousands of dollars down the toilet trying to hang on to our old system.

I should have spoken more strongly, more convincingly, that I was convinced we should make the switch. We’d been seriously talking about it for over a year. But I’m not the primary breadwinner, and maybe because of that I feel compelled to be ultra-careful with our money.

When you see something that just isn’t working, speak up. Before it hits the breaking point. You’re not being heroic by making it work, especially when you know it will need to be replaced sooner or later. You’re just adding undue stress to your and your family’s life.

Let it go. Give it up. And don’t feel guilty about saying it just doesn’t work. 

(I’m preaching to myself right now).

Ditch the Advice – a better way to help other parents

Parenting isn’t easy, and as the primary caregivers for our little (or big) progeny, we often see their worst sides come out. We’re the “safe zones” where they know they can scream, melt down, and disobey, and we’ll still love them, put food on the table and clean clothes on their backs.

Because of that, it’s easy for us as parents to miss the roses for the thorns. We get so caught up in correcting the discipline issues, teaching life skills, and making sure toys are put away, instruments are practiced, and homework is done. We spend so much time being taskmasters that we sometimes miss the amazing people we’ve been given to raise.

So… if you want to encourage another parent, compliment their child. Not in a generic “she’s so smart” or “he’s so handsome” way, but in a meaningful and specific way.

  • She’s so inquisitive! I love the questions she comes up with!
  • He’s so considerate and nurturing of younger kids.word-1940813_1920
  • She is really good at making sure everyone’s included.
  • He’s determined and persistent. I notice he doesn’t give up easily.
  • Look at her arrange those animals! She has a good eye.
  • I love his sense of humor.
  • She’s made such progress in her ability to ________.

When we as parents are reminded of our children’s positive attributes, we remember that what we’re doing matters. That all our effort is paying off, and that our children are making progress. We’re also reminded of their individuality — their unique spark, that no one else has. And when other people point that out, it helps us to value and nurture that as well.

When I taught high school, I loved doing this at parent-teacher conferences or in other parent-teacher interactions – especially for the kids whose parents are used to getting discipline phone calls. I’d talk about their creative energy, social awareness, sense of humor — all things that would be helpful in the adult world, but in our structured school system tend to cause problems, especially as the students are still developing and figuring out who they are — and their impulse control is developing too. The parent’s eyes would inevitably light up – and our conversation would change, from one based on fear and dread of how he or she has messed up to how we can help little Mikey grow into who he was created to be.

We want our parents to have hope, to see the potential in their children, not to be burdened by even more expectations.

And who knows – once they realized that you truly notice their child – that you value her – they might actually ask for your opinion on something, too! 🙂