Ungrateful Children

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I just read an article about a mom whose son disrespected her by questioning her trade as a writer (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marcia-kester-doyle-/rude-children-_b_5589057.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000039). He made jabs at her such as her not contributing to the household—asking her when she was going to get a real job. The mother delve into the younger generations being spoiled. That these youngsters were impatient to what they wanted because a part of it was that we live in a social media driven society now where it aids young people to have an entitlement attitude.

I do not have children, but I have always worked around young people. More than now, I really think about…how much spoiled are younger children than when I was a child? How much more ungrateful they are? I always wonder if my measurements are too harsh because of how I grew up.

I grew up in a welfare black family where the odds were tenth fold against me. When I look at my entire family dynamic, I see a lot of my family members make choices that have continued to keep up the impoverished cycle within my family.

My mom finished high school, but like a lot of black women of her generation, she did not attend college. Growing up, my mom always said that she was not smart enough to advance in school. As a youngster, I thought that was quite contradictory because her actions showed otherwise. She could have been an English professor, an archival specialist, or an archeologist. My mom is a quite talented researcher. However, she thought that what she was doing was not something you could make money off of. What she also thought that you could not get formal education with those talents. Due to having others in my family and outside of my family tell her that she was “dumb” and “weird” took a hit on her self-esteem. And the way my grandmother treated her—having her and my Aunt Di do all the household chores while the other children did not do much but get cared for by my mother and Aunt Di…or get into a lot of trouble, definitely took a hit on my mother’s self-esteem.

Yet, at age four or five, I knew I wanted more than my mother wanted. I looked around my entire environment, and I never felt like I belonged. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like…I wasn’t quite born into the right family? Now, I know I was born into the family I was meant to be in because I know more about my family history. I also am grateful that I was born into those circumstances. Yes, growing up in my family was worth it. Being in my family helped me become the person that I am right now.

There were many times when I was a teenager that I cried and cried…and begged God for mercy. Beg him to get me out of the hole because that’s what it felt like. When you are that destitute and when you are living in the beginnings of a culture where commercialism and consumerism are on the verge of blowing up bigger than any of your wildest dream, it almost swallow many of us growing up whole. Now, it much worse than it was when I was growing up. Yes, not just young folks, but a lot of folks I’ve met act quite entitled.

What I am saying is that I did not have a chance to be ungrateful. There wasn’t much time to become ungrateful brat. The more knowledge I gain when I grew up going through school, the harder I worked to become different than my family. Yet, now, I smile because I was always different. I accept it now.

When I look at young people today complain, I look at their complaining with such disdain. I think…what you lack is emotional empathy. You are complaining to all your friends about not getting the latest phone or your mom and dad are losers because they don’t make enough money. I am here to tell you kids that real struggle and suffering…you have not had to go through it because your parents did. For that, they thought about you, the future, and how they would keep you from suffering from it. I hope when you become maturer, you will realize why they gave you the very best so you would not have to go through the very worse.

I remember a time where I thought my mom was putting us through the fire as well. That she could have become a better parent. In that way, I was an ingrate even though I came from a welfare family! Well, I have discovered now that it is complicated. I understand why mom behaved the way she did. She did not have friends who really got her or understood her. She did not think that she was liked well, and we lived in a small town where everyone knew your business. Well, not only that, all these folks my mom was around, she grew up with them as well. I can see why she did not utilize her potential. It was because she was in the same environment all her life and could not believe she could exist outside of that environment. But as her oldest daughter, I could see myself outside of that environment. Despite all the verbal showdowns we would have and despite all the teenage angst animosity I had, I still wanted my mom to feel like she was deserving of the type of life that I wanted to live. A life of success. Not having to worry scraping. Having enough money not to worry about scraping. Having a partner that was loyal to me. Having a successful professional career.

But now, as I am moving on into my late thirties, I know better. I know why. What she wanted for herself is not the same for what I wanted for myself. Each individual makes choices that determine their own fate. Several years ago, I learned to forgive my mother for her trespasses against me because I finally understood why she did what she did…because I realized, I too, had the choice to make the same decisions she made. That’s what makes us alike. I took the road that she decided not travel on. It does not make her less, or it does not make me better. It just makes us different….and it also shows that even though we made different choices, I still had to go through hardships and struggles, but I recognize that I had it a bit better than her. And for that, I am grateful.

It is easy for younger children to treat their parent, parents, or guardians with disrespect because the majority of younger people are shallow. I was shallow in ways growing up even though I had to grow up fast in my family. Now, as become an older adult, I realize that my mom did sacrifice a lot even though she struggled to believe in herself. Of course, when you are a kid, you don’t realize that parents are still going through their own battles and struggles that are remnant from familial issues that they were exposed to growing up. I know. I was a kid who thought my mother was not good enough to be my mom because she always ragged on me about being like my “no good father” when I would not support some of her not so good choices she would make. Yet, I have also realized as I have gotten older that my father hurt my mother something terrible. And my grandmother hurt my mom something terrible. To sum it up, there are a lot of people who my mom expected to be loyal to her…who hurt her. That’s a hard thing to carry. It is hard to carry all the pain of people who you love and who are supposed to love you.

So, the kid who disrespected his mom in the Huffpost article. Son, you have to realize, like your mom pointed out, that she has taken great care of you. She gave up her writing career just so you could have a CHANCE at growing into an adaptable adult. Your mom is not perfect, but you will thank her one day for all she has done for you. I know my mom wasn’t perfect when I was growing up, but if it was not for her, I would not be here. She didn’t do a lot of things right, but she did a lot of things right. She taught me how to survive in this world. She taught me about class and self-respect. Things I rather have than all the money and material belongings in the world. I just hope that you thank you mom and look back as you being an ungrateful kid as a stage in your life–that, indeed, it was growing pains.

Cheers,
S

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