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Sunday, April 3, 2022

Giving Our Kids a "Better Life" - The Modern Twist

As parents, we always want to do "better" for our kids. We want to give them "the things we never had" and "a better life".  My parents grew up very poor before immigrating to the U.S. from the Azorean Islands of Portugal. While their lives improved drastically here in the United States, it still took a lot of grit, hard work, and a bit of luck to get where they are today. While raising a family, it was important for them to follow through on the "give them better" logic. While my father never even graduated high school, he worked hard to ensure we all had the financial means to have the things we wanted (within reason) and to attend a good college without the burden of student loans. As a kid and young adult, I traveled the world, sat down to a homecooked meal every night, was loved by two happily married parents, I had my health and healthy siblings. I lived on a cul-de-sac in a safe quiet little town in coastal Connecticut with a great school system. Heck, I even had a horse. 

While I had a lot, I wasn't raised as a spoiled rotten child. Our family had strict rules that I had to abide by and my parents did a great job of balancing the "give" and the "go get it yourself". I had a busy schedule of babysitting gigs before legally entering the workforce as an ice cream scooping teenager.  I truly had a great childhood by any conventional standard. 

When I became a parent, this "do better" standard crept into my thoughts almost instantly. My first thought was how on earth could I give Whitney better than I had when my parents had so little and gave so much. I quickly realized it wasn't going to be this dramatic difference in wealth and upbringing. Whitney will have a great childhood and Adam and I work hard to ensure we will have financial stability and the ability to give him all of the things that are important to us. His college savings account is set up and he's already a well-traveled baby. The "do better" logic to me was focused on the smaller things. It focuses on the things I'm passionate about and the things that I think will make him into a well-rounded human and the best member of society he can be. 

At the heart of it, I want to give him the opportunities to discover the same passions I have but at a young age and I want to give him the tools he needs to grow into a well-rounded adult. I didn't come from a family of skiers/hikers/runners/scuba divers/mountain bikers/horseback riders/insert active hobby here. They are all hobbies I uniquely acquired on my own which truth be told, is always harder and guaranteed to be more expensive. This isn't a pity party, I grew up with privileges denied to many, but it's the little things that stick out in my mind. I was an adult the first time I went on a camping trip and slept in a tent. I was in my 20s when I put on my first pair of skis and watched the four years old whiz by. I still have no idea how to compost and in a family tree full of women, I can really truly only think of one aunt who really chased after a career to build her own success. 

I instantly knew that this would be my "give" to Whitney. That I would nurture a love of the outdoors and buy him a new pair of skis to fit his growing little body every season. I would teach him to recycle just as soon as I taught him to put away his toys. He would sleep in a tent in the quiet woodlands of New England and he would understand how important it is to move his body every day. I would keep a small garden in the backyard to teach him where his food truly comes from and teach him about the merits of hard work. I would teach him how to cook nutritious meals for himself and break the notion that women cook and clean while the men are the breadwinners. He would grow up with two working parents and a mother who owns her own company. It's different from the "better" my parents gave me but it's my version and one year in, it is becoming one of the biggest privileges of my life. 

I work for myself in the company I own and the veggie garden is officially set up out in the backyard. He eats anything I put in front of him and I am determined to do everything in my power to keep it that way. His first camping trip is set up for the summer and as he quickly outgrows his baby clothes, I'm looking into the outdoor gear that I need to teach him the concept of "frilufsliv" and to embrace any weather and all of the seasons. I have a few fun projects up my sleeve, reviews of these parenting books from different cultures and some awesome clothing brands that keep kids outside and happy while still being aware of their environmental footprint.  Thanks for joining me i this wild crazy ride of parenting. 

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