Monday, May 24, 2010

The benefits of raising children in an economic downturn.

Recently I committed to advertising Cowgirl Cash in True North magazine. It's a beautiful magazine and the readership appears to be parents of young children, concerned about the environment, striving to be authentic, practical, and thrifty...sold. As I was talking to the ad rep an article was taking shape in my mind. It instantly was titled "the benefits of raising your children in an economic downturn". I'm no journalist, but I went home and wrote the article. I ended up getting cold feet and not having the nerve to submit it for a large readership. Here is my compromise, an abridged version for a small readership.

I consider myself an optimist, and think people who know me would call me a "born cheerleader". But I truly do see benefits in raising children in an economic downturn. We have two children, Luci 13 and Teddy 10. Our children are great kids and very aware of our financial situation with a mom starting a new retail business and a father looking for work in the construction management business. I want to share some of the parenting moves we've been forced to make that I am confident we would not have made if money were not a factor.

It used to be that when our daughter wanted to go to a movie we'd give her a $10, maybe a $20. That would cover a movie, dinner at Red Robin, maybe a look see into PacSun. Now we don't have an extra $10 or $20 so my daughter adapted. She started looking for babysitting jobs. She got a red cross certificate, she made up a simple business card, she e-mailed neighbors, and she attends her brothers elementary school events, knowing full well, she will see her "clients". Luci has learned to return phone calls promptly, save and respond to text messages and checks her e-mail consistently. We are proud of the business Luci has built and are sometimes jealous of the cash she carries in her wallet.

My kids recently wanted to do the Riders for the Cure event at Mt. Bachelor. You spend the day in the half pipe and money raised goes to research and education for breast cancer. The entry fee was $35 each or $150 each of fundraised dollars. In the past my husband and I would have written the check for $70, and moved on to the next activity. But, not now. The kids got themselves motivated and hit the streets. They made a sign, practiced their speech, researched the levels to see how much swag they could earn for each fundraising level, set a goal, and earned $488. They learned about the Sara Fisher project and breast cancer. They also met and talked to their neighbors, got their rears outside in inclement weather and had a blast doing it.

A reduced income means reduced activities. We no longer do tennis lessons, guitar, or even consider activities I would love my kids to do like lacrosse, yoga, a second language class. What does this mean for our family? It means were home. We're home together playing with the new frisbee, romping with the dog, doing the crossword, reading, listening to each others music, and asking about each others day.

Am I glad we're broke? No. Am I thankful for the lessons I've learned and for some of the parenting changes we've been forced to make? Kind of. Am I optimistic my kids will be better because of it all? Yes.

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