Posted By RichC on August 5, 2014
I grew up watching teenagers a decade (or less) older than me heading to Vietnam or getting lost in angry 60’s. They (we) followed those dark years of the cold war, race riots and many protests, by the disillusionment of the 1970’s. It is a wonder we ever made it to adulthood? Thankfully we did, but it was in part due to having rock solid parents and grandparents.
The current generation probably has similar concerns wondering if the years of higher education, followed by years of un- or underemployment, will harm their adult children and grandchildren … those who will be in charge of America someday.
I’ll remain positive, in part due to the questionable history of my generation mentioned above and that most still have caring parents and/or grandparents. Those I know are still willing (and able) to sacrifice for their kids. Unfortunately this trend seems to be ending in part due to financial pressures, but also because more kids are growing up in single parent environments and often have dysfunctional families. Are they get the same boost as those with supportive extended families?
It’s now time for some praise for what I see in our life and the lives of our kids … particularly what I’ve observed from my wife’s mom’s side of the family. Brenda’s grandparents (Hilder and Fritz Holmstrom) emigrated from Sweden near the beginning of the 20th century. Both were uneducated, but vocationally skilled, and excited to begin a new life in a country where so much opportunity was available. They struggled to make ends meet, but found enough money extra in order to save for a top priority – putting their children through college Even though college costs were lower, it was still a substantial sacrifice on their part. Their children (including Brenda’s mom – a teacher) all took advantage of this “leg up” on their peers becoming a doctor, nurse and teacher. Quite the American immigrant story for one generation.
This “importance” in our family has been the legacy for the next generation and each has used their “leg-up” to earn extra dollars so their children have the opportunity for higher education. As college costs go up, it needs to be a parent’s priority to save early in order to afford this opportunity. It is to important to wait and far to expensive to pay out of pocket so “save early.” Thankfully we did this.
Another lesson we learned from Brenda’s parents is that instead of lavishing gifts of toys on the children and grandchildren, they ceremonially placed $100 each year in a fund ($GASFX)and placed importance on reading off the balances each year. The money was to be set aside in these accounts until the grandchildren were older and the funds were unofficially slated for college or if not needed, perhaps a down payment on a first house. Through the years the fund grew and became a wonderful legacy.
What will the next generation do? Are families still together enough to even make this work?