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Just a Guy with a Little Envy

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For once, I could actually empathize with my teen son.

upset looking man

Bruce Sallan: I just visited my best friend, who moved from L.A. to a small town in the Northwest. He built a home, from scratch, supervising every detail, and -- with his wife -- created their dream home. I found myself feeling a tad of envy as he took me on the tour of the house, pointing out all the beautiful details.

As we've been renting for several years, the pride of ownership is just not part of our lives, and our belief is that the practical choice is to stay in rent for the near future. Our choice, certainly. But, as I reflected on my own bout of envy, I thought about my boys and how often they're comparing themselves to their peers.

The biggest area in this regard, for my teen, is with his friends getting their licenses and, in some cases, their own cars. He knows our rules -- no "B" average, no permit, no license. And, he's not there yet. We're sticking to our guns, in spite of his pouting and relating every exception he sees in his friends. The same holds true for other possessions and privileges that both boys see their friends have that they may not.

Again, we face the fact that being a good parent isn't necessarily being their best buddy. Our job is to teach them values and good habits, regardless of whether they like it or not. But, my brush with envy on seeing my friend's spectacular home was a reminder that it isn't easy for my boys. But, what do I know? I'm just a guy.


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30 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jenny January 2, 2010, 5:35 AM

It’s hard to be patient isn’t it? We are in the same boat.

Denise January 2, 2010, 7:11 AM

Bruce - is this what being “green” means? You look horrible! lolololol.

Anita (England) January 2, 2010, 8:43 AM

What is harder is not being able to let them have what they want even if you can give it to them. When my eldest daughter was so poorly, she was told she couldn’t drive for two years and her provisional licence was shut away in a drawer! To see all her friends pass their test, get a drivers’ licence, a car… It was very hard for her. Now, aged twenty-one, she’s been given the all clear to drive. But what has been so great, and I suppose a true challenge of devotion, is her boyfriend travelling up from London to our house every weekend – for well over a year now! I agree with your boundaries, though, and your sons will appreciate what they have, more so if they’ve earned it. Problem is you do feel like giving in at times, as you want your children to have what their friends have and to be happy. But in the situation of constantly giving in, I find children then end up looking for the next thing and don’t appreciate anything. However, when they finally get the prize they’ve earned and waited for – it’s a great moment for the whole family.

Wendi January 2, 2010, 9:00 AM

I can so relate. My best friend has a really pretty newer house that is huge and wonderfully decorated, while I live in a older house that is not all that great. I get a little green with that somedays. The way I deal is that I think about what I can have in the future. My hubby is working full time and going to school full time to be a pharmacist, so the end result…really good. Holding on till then is a bit hard. For the kids, I feel bad that they don’t get all the stuff that all their friends have, but they are good kids because I don’t give in all the time. One of their biggest things is that I don’t allow any video games or computer for play during the school week. All their friends are allowed, but I have seen my kids’ grades improve because I make them focus on school during the week. Its tough, but they will thank me in end..at least I hope. My kids are 14, 12 and 3…so they are really guarded on the computer, where their friends are not. That is a big jealoous point for them, however I worry about the internet and weirdos, so they have to deal with sticking to the rules. Good luck, and think to the future when you can buy a house. That will keep you going.

Bruce Sallan January 2, 2010, 9:51 AM

Wendi - YOU are doing the completely right thing. We don’t allow ANY TV on school days or nights either. Our boys know that our discipline is good for them though they occasionally complain about their friend’s having more leeway. THAT is not the lesson a parent should be teaching and only sets their kids up for harsher ones later on. Let’s stick to our “rules” and know it may be tough at times but it is the better way. It’s like a column I wrote called, “Best Friend or Best Parent?” - you can’t be both. Thanks for the comment Wendi!

Jeff January 2, 2010, 12:32 PM

Okay Bruce, you’ve done “envy,” now you got the other 6 deadly sins to deal with.

David January 4, 2010, 11:30 AM

Let’s see how many of the other sins I can recall … in addition to envy, there’s gluttony, pride, sloth, lust… that’s a total of five, I can’t recall the other two. I would favor fewer rather than more rules, but every rule S*T*R*I*C*T*L*Y enforced. (Too many rules means to many rules to keep track of and to strictly enforce, which would yield an administrative nightmare). That is essentially the environment I grew up within and have leaned toward ever since. What is that fashion rule I once heard? Take a quick look in the mirror after you’ve finished dressing, and whatever accessory catches your eye, remove it? Similarly, when you survey all the rules you have designed or laid out, the one that makes you go, “Hmmm, that one’s kind of weird/goofy/extraneous, or is pretty much already covered by another rule,” that’s the one to delete.

mercaties January 4, 2010, 3:24 PM

I look at it this way. Most of our friends are home owners and have very nice houses but live in crummmy towns with crummy school districts. My husband and I rent by choice. The town we live in is an upscale town with an awesome school district to stay in this town and buy is way more that we can afford. I would mutch rather live in a nice town with good schools and rent than move to an area I don’t like with crummy schools just so I can buy a house.

Sonnie January 5, 2010, 9:04 AM

My daughter gets jealous because her friends are allowed on the computer more frequently than she is and they all have texting phones and we won’t allow her to text. Periodically she will start whining about it and sometimes I feel like giving in but so far we have stuck to our guns and she is not the social pariah that she claims she will become if we don’t let her do these things.

~Melody @ 6 Feet Over~ May 1, 2010, 11:31 PM

Oh I could write a book on this …

Long story short, we were going to build a massive custom home after five years of developing land and over a year of creating amazing blueprints. Many things transpired (including - but not limited to- a hospitalization of our daughter, real estate burnout, being completely over the stress, etc).

One of the things that consistently pressed on my mind was how I didn’t want my daughter to be raised in such a home. Sounds crazy? (And before people start to judge, let me just say I do NOT have anything against people who live in awesome homes…there’s a story behind everything, so don’t assume anything.)I had a modest upbringing and I wanted the same for her. I even told the architect to make sure she had a Jack-and-Jill bathroom and not one of her own. I wanted her to share a room if she ever had a sibling in the future.

Envy is something that we humans will always deal with on some level whether it’s on the give or receive end of it. Being able to truly find contentment is sadly underrated.

Oh and to make you feel a little better…I can guarantee you that there are folks out there who are completely envious of you for being a renter in these crazy economic times.

~melody~

~Melody @ 6 Feet Over~ May 1, 2010, 11:42 PM

Oh I could write a book on this …

Long story short, we were going to build a massive custom home after five years of developing land and over a year of creating amazing blueprints. Many things transpired (including - but not limited to- a hospitalization of our daughter, real estate burnout, being completely over the stress, etc).

One of the things that consistently pressed on my mind was how I didn’t want my daughter to be raised in such a home. Sounds crazy? (And before people start to judge, let me just say I do NOT have anything against people who live in awesome homes…there’s a story behind everything, so don’t assume anything.)I had a modest upbringing and I wanted the same for her. I even told the architect to make sure she had a Jack-and-Jill bathroom and not one of her own. I wanted her to share a room if she ever had a sibling in the future.

Envy is something that we humans will always deal with on some level whether it’s on the give or receive end of it. Being able to truly find contentment is sadly underrated.

Oh and realize…there are many people these days who would be completely envious of you for renting during these horrid economic times.

~melody~

~Melody @ 6 Feet Over~ May 1, 2010, 11:44 PM

So sorry for the double comments…it wouldn’t take my first comment and then BAM, I guess it did! ha!

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