A Note From My Daughter

Sometimes people ask me if I’m worried about how our situation affects the children.  Well, I do of course, especially after reading about the recent study that says even brief bouts of poverty negatively affects children’s health. 

Affordable housing directly influences a child’s health according the report. Unsafe living conditions, homelessness and frequent moves put children more at risk to suffer from a number of health issues including hypertension, heart disease, depression or anxiety, athsma, developmental delays and behavioral problems.

 That’s quite a potential toll! I am grateful my kids are all healthy right now – but maybe those things will come along later in life. 

Beyond the health concerns I worry about the psychological effects – that my 5th grader who is living with friends won’t feel part of the family when she returns, or that my 8th grader is embarrassed about where we live – although she doesn’t hesitate to have friends drop her off at the trailer after a playdate.  Is my son overly active in his first grade class because he was physically restrained in his orphanage or because of our cramped living situation?  Maybe both things are at play. 

But I see good effects as well.  My 8th grader wants to be an architect and build affordable housing.  She asks me to pull over as we leave the Von’s parking lot so that she can jump out of the car and hand Mary, a disabled homeless woman who sits at the parking lot entrance with her ‘Anything Helps’ sign, a $5 bill from her own wallet.  My 2nd grader asks for money to put in the Salvation Army kettle when we leave the grocery store. 

I think my kids will be more frugal and aware of the cost of things. Maybe they’ll pinch pennies or maybe they’ll work like crazy and earn a lot so they’ll always be financially secure.  If they do that and the bottom falls out I’ll bet they’ll roll with the punches and be ok. And they will always be aware that there are people who have less than they do, and I think they will look for opportunities to help them.  We went to friends’ house for Thanksgiving and while we were there we watched the CNN Hero Awards.  The younger kids didn’t seem to pay much attention but my oldest did.  She doesn’t want to be a rock star or model like her friends – she wants to emulate the Heroes who were honored.

Today I returned from an errand and my 7 year old daughter handed me a note and asked me to read it “in my head, not out loud.”  It said:

“Mom is the best and I like her because she is osom and smart and cool and funy but some times she is rily mad and sad and happy but the most incretebel thing about her is she helps homeles pepel.  I love her when she is happy.”

And that was before I took her with me to deliver a bag of canned food to a man standing outside Target looking for work, his young son hunkered down next to him on the cold pavement.

This entry was posted in children in need, compassion, frugal living, poverty, recession. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to A Note From My Daughter

  1. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37215005/ns/health-kids_and_parenting/

    This is what I was referring to–your response. I would like to see you address this issue in a blog post. It will help those who read you and are parents. Maybe surrogate parents can have a beneficial effect on children with whom they come into contact.

    My mother was warm and loving, but as the oldest of five, I learned to suck it up because she was busy. Then and now, I know I was shorted on her time and affection just because of an abusive father. I now have fibromyalgia. Well, I have had it for 15 years and did not tell a soul, just sucked it up until it literally overcame me. Now, I can no longer work. Okay, I can write.

    I do not blame her. She did a phenomenal job making our childhood full of joy and her caring, modeling being a mother. I awoke in tears, but told her it was my eyes burning when I was just three until I left home. I could not make her life unhappy by telling her my fears and pain of a just-plain-mean father.

  2. This made me cry. Blessed are those who have sympathy for it makes life better.

  3. maja says:

    What a beautiful note 🙂

  4. MariadeMiami says:

    I loved to read the note from your daughter.
    It is so sweet and she is so thoughtful. I am sure you must feel
    you are doing something right in their education, I agree we should never take for granted that we are doing a good job and try always be better,
    but in my opinion, it is clear you are a wonderful mother and in spite of all
    hardship your children will grow up well educated and very loved, in the fundamentals they are rich and that is what matters most.

  5. Becky, I can see how bartering might make you feel funny. But, if you explain you are trying to give your children excellent opportunites to become well-rounded people and need assistance, people will most likely have something you can do. Do barter $ for $ in this trade. That way you and the other person will both feel gratified. There are organized bartering organizations: braces for photography, for example. I needed a bit of legal work done, just a document, and traded the attorney for Cabbage Patch Kids clothing I had left over from my years selling them at craft shows. There are sites with rules for bartering. I wish you the best in getting what your children want and need. You are rearing responsible people, at least from the chores and extra jobs tell me.

    • Becky R says:

      Practical Parsimony,

      Thanks! After basketball I will give battering a try. That is so cool you traded legal work for Cabbage patch kids clothes. I will also look up some local bartering sites to see some rules, so I don’t offend anyone.
      -Becky

  6. Actually, the statistics show that later in life, children who were poor/lacked health and dental care/or were homeless were more likely to have psychological and health problems as elders than those who were better off. This held true even if the child grew up to have the best of health care and were wealthy. However, your children seem to be well taken care of by you. You and they do not seem to be in dire straights. They have a home, albeit small. They have a consistent parent. I have not read of any real lack of nourishing food. The children are being taught to look beyond themselves at others who really are suffering and lack the things your children have. I think one day your children will call you a hero for keeping things together for them. So, you have a really small abode. Look up “tiny houses” on the internet and show them what some people are building for homes.

    I cannot say for sure, but I imagine the children all grown up that are in the studies had mothers and fathers who were not as aware as you. You come across as a person who is not only introspective but also watching and analyzing the effect all this has on the lives of your children. That counts for a lot in the life and future of a child. Okay, I will shut up.

  7. Maria says:

    I would suggest you read Tracey Kidder’s “Mountains Beyond Mountains” for a true story of how an unusual and slightly underprivileged childhood produced one of the world’s best and most compassionate doctors. (Every public library I’ve ever set foot in has several copies.) Do not worry–your children will be kind, clever, resourceful, creative and wonderful human beings! They already admire and respect you and those feelings will only grow as they get older and fully understand what an extraordinary amount of love and effort went into raising them! Keep your chin up–you have plenty to be proud of!

  8. Becky R says:

    I wonder too. My boys are 12 and 7. They are very giving. But sometimes get embarrassed because we don’t have alot of stuff like their friends.
    I worry I can’t give them enough. One wants karate lessons, one guitar, but that is out of the question right now.

    It is especailly hard as Christmas approaches. But still my boys are saving to buy some animals for world vision to help a needy family, this blesses my heart so.

    I hope they remember the time I spent with them (like today playing Monopoly which I hate. lol.)

    I think if you can love your kids and they have food and needs met, that will leave an impression.

    • Becky, can you talk to the karate school and tell them of your child’s desire? Maybe you can trade work for lessons. I worked as secretary for a dance teacher in exchange for my daughter’s dance lessons. The teacher needed a secretary. She asked me if I would do it in exchange for lessons. All I did was take money and record it in a book and only when my daughter took lessons. So, I was there for one dance lesson session per week. You could clean the place, make flyers, or something.

      Talk to people about the guitar…music store, friends who can be on the lookout for a guitar. Put an ad in freecycle for one. Think and you can figure this one out for both your boys. Do expect something from the boys for the privileges you can get for them. Ex: clean out the litter box, learn to wash dishes, fold clothes, something. Besides, even boys need to know how to take care of themselves, doing domestic chores.

      • Becky R says:

        I have considered asking bartering karate and guitar lessons for office work, cleaning, or childcare. I guess I feel funny, but I think I will type about what I can offer and see if anyone wants to trade. It can’t hurt. The worst they can say is no.

        I also just emailed all my friends asking for an old guitar, plus put a want on freecycle, so I will see about that.

        My boys have chores every day, Jason has 12 (he is 12) and Josh has 7 (he is 7.) Plus they help me clean up after meals (not included in chore list) and take care of the dog (also not on chore list.) In addition they have their own pet and house sitting business. They made about $200 over the summer and used this money to buy wood to build their own really cool tree fort. They are pet sitting a dog right now and are going to use that money to buy Christmas gifts for each other and their grandparents (their idea.)

        I hope our posts encourage others to think outside the box for stuff they want.

        -Becky

        p.s. I did get my boys a scholarship to play basketball on a church run league starting in Jan. So I will wait on the karate and guitar until after basketball ends.

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