We all have the potential to create our own little hells, don't we? We can complain about them, suffer from them, but yet refuse to tear them down and create a more positive place to dwell. Somehow these hells we create for ourselves also give us a comfort in their familiarity. We know what to expect, how to feel, even though we may hate it - no high expectations and therefore no added disappointments.. Or, we just might enjoy the suffering and letting others see us suffer so we can feel justified in our paralysis and inaction.
What are some examples of these little hells? They can be endless, but here are a few:
* Extreme debt. The GRACE version entails dealing with the present situation . Being proactive by taking a look at your numbers, your absolute needs versus wants, saving habits versus spending habits and prioritizing your bills and paying them in the appropriate order. This version entails embracing the changes that must be made in general lifestyle alterations and the type and frequency of work that must be adopted. These alterations don't necessarily mean that people were out of line at the time before debt, but sometimes life throws hard balls, such as job loss, health issues etc. And due to no fault of our own, YES, lifestyle changes need to be made. It's just facing what the reality is at the current moment. This is the time spouses and partners need to pull together even more to support and encourage one another.
The HELL version is to blame everyone BUT yourself, be sour, do nothing, retreat, and just sink into an endless amount of self-pity and sorrow. This is the scene where marriages and relationships break apart, and the worst possible financial consequences result because reality was not faced, but denied and no plan of action was created or carried out. Here is where some might bury their sorrows in alcohol or drugs or worse.
*You are the long-term, full-time care giver for a loved one. In the GRACE version you do all you can for your
loved one physically, and emotionally with a loving attitude BUT at the same time, you take care of yourself. You make the effort to find some relief from your on-site duties to go and exercise, have lunch with a friend, go for a walk, go to a movie, and feed your spiritual life. In other words, YOU have a life too. This isn't easy, I know, I've been there, but it can be done! Now, take a look at Hell!
In Hell, you're convincing yourself that YOU'RE the only person capable of caring for your loved one at all times (or you're allowing your loved one to convince you of this). Therefore, you never or very rarely leave their side. By doing this you either exhaust yourself, or grow bitter, or both!! Plus, you become unrecognizable to the other loved ones in your life and you fail to take care of the regular duties of life because you lack energy, motivation and anyway your loved one needs you right there by their side, so how could you do ANYTHING else? .Right? Wrong!!!
* You HATE your job! The GRACE version will include you taking the time to examine WHAT it is that you hate. Is it something that you can control? (Could you get more training in the skills needed to do the job successfully? Have you asked for help?) If so, you take steps to change your situation there on the job, knowing that it is a process and that it takes time, but you have hope and faith. Well maybe you decide, NO, it's not that. It's the fact that the work itself is totally deadening to your human soul!! If so, then you need to figure WHAT will liven your soul, or at least NOT kill it! You then research other options; you talk to people; you let others know you're searching for other opportunities. Other opportunities could exist within the company you're working for or outside of it.
Then there is always the dark but comfortable version, you're own personal HELL.. Here you might suffer silently with headaches, stomach aches, and mental stress. Here your attitude would be down about 80% of the time at least. You would not seek to expand your options or seek help. All you could manage to do would be to complain to anyone who would listen, maybe at home, with friends, or even strangers in line at the store. Comfort could be sought in many different ways, depending on the person such as in alcohol, drugs, bad relationships, gambling, or tons of bad for you food, because you 'deserve it', given all that you put up with throughout the day.
Just these very few examples, make my point, but there is another critical thought to keep in mind. If you feel you DO desperately want to get out of your funk or personal little hell, and it just seems to be a too overwhelming task, then , please, seek help. First your regular doctor would be a great start to rule out any physical issues, then she/ he can refer you from there. If therapy is not recommended, or not appreciated , then a life coach might be your ticket. If your desire is earnest and your attitude WANTs to improve, whatever positive path you decide to take should bear good fruit for your life. The essential point is to DO something positive right now!!
I know life is not full of marsh mellows and candy canes, but it's the only life we have on this earth, so why not work to make it as positive, and life-giving as possible for both yourself and the others around you? Yes, there is some comfort in familiarity, even in a state of misery BUT, if you can move your bones, and shake the cobwebs out of your brain, and start doing something about your situation I BET you will remember how much better and EMPOWERING it feels to take action and more control over your own life for the good.
This is what I mean by gathering your Pearl Moments, but I didn't say it would be easy. :)
Back to Money! Well did you think about what you want your college children to learn about money? I have a great idea!! How about the skill of simple budgeting? It doesn't matter whether their monthly source of money is coming from you, from what they managed to save over the summer, or a regular job they are going to have while on campus or a combination of all three. Whatever the source(s), keeping a monthly budget is an essential skill that promotes life time financial success, plus a few other bonus benefits.
Making a budget and sticking to that budget grows discipline. DISCIPLINE grows SUCCESS in all areas of life ( education, faithful relationships, health and fitness, and personal organization, just to name a few). Discipline shouldn't be considered a rude, boring, or uncomfortable word or concept, either. It's funny how many people unconsciously shiver or shrink away a bit whenever this particular word is brought forward. Why is that? People seem to envision crowded walls and chains of labor whenever 'discipline' is mentioned. Instead, however, I propose that it is a word of FREEDOM and JOY because with it brings a great peace of mind. You're at peace because you're not experiencing extreme confusion and uncertainty in your life on a daily basis. All life has some confusion, some uncertainty, but why exacerbate the possibilities? So MONEY, being one of those factors which can either enhance or reduce many areas of life (social, basic living, transportation, etc), should certainly be one of the top area that anyone can gain more discipline in, therefore the BUDGET.
College is a great time to start this seriously because this is where it can be the SIMPLEST for there are fewer categories upon which to focus. A typical college student living in a dorm would probably have the following categories: phone bill, books, basic school supplies, transportation, cleaning supplies, entertainment, clothing, and gifts. If the student lived at home, ok, delete the cleaning supplies, BUT if they decide to move into a house or apartment in their junior + years, then of course more categories are required. So you see, life can get more complicated sooner than you think, therefore the GREAT advantage to starting out in the beginning when life is 'simple' and 'easy'.
As parents we can't dictate the use of a budget, but we can certainly advise the practice, send an email with suggested categories and encourage from that point. Also, we can stop (if we have the tendency) being the endless money tree for our children and not leap into giving the moment there is something our college child WANTS that they can't or do not care to pay for. For our kids to 'ADULT', we have to let the process play out. It's like when they were babies learning to walk. We had to let them fall sometimes. They fell, they survived and they got strong.
MONEY!! Well THIS is a constant topic of concern all through the college years, but it is a topic best to address step by step!! My purpose is not to promote a specific style of money management. That is a personal decision parents must decide on their own, but I DO recommend that you establish some monetary policy and rules for your student so that everyone is on the same page. Before you decide on the details though, it's time for you the parents to think and reflect upon what you are actually hoping to achieve (besides not going broke yourselves) concerning your student's FINANCIAL education. This is a major part of learning to "ADULT" and the process begins now, NOT at the end of college. What do you want your child to learn, specifically, about managing their money? If you think about it, this is really important because surely we don't want our kids to be at the same exact place they are now on this topic 4 years from now. Do we?
Writing down your objectives, will help tremendously to clarify what exact rules you want to establish for your college student. These objectives will also help you to explain your reasons to your 'child' should they want to protest. Whether they accept your reasoning or not is not the point, however. The point is that YOU will feel much more confident in your decision because YOU will understand why your rule exists and if they don't get it now, they will down the road. Parenting isn't for the weak, this is for sure, especially during these college years!!
Stay strong and keep your eyes on the goal!!
There's a lot of planning that goes into the college experience and it begins at home. What do I take? What do I leave behind? Better time management, stress reduction , and increased preparedness and readiness for the busier days to come are great benefits for engaging your college student in the PLANNING process now. I'm not saying that the PLANNING process will cause less stress, especially that first step where he/she actually sits down to DO it, but once the process BEGINS (and we all know how hard it is to begin something that we're dreading), it gets easier and easier.
The first thing we're asking our students to plan for is WHAT they will need to take for their coming year. It is NOT the parent's job to plan for this because the parent is not the one who will be living there or learning to "adult" there. "Adulting" means that one is learning to access their OWN situation and respond accordingly. So here is the FIRST step! And isn't it great that they get to do it in the "safety" of their own home with you?!! After the student writes down their plan for this first phase of the college experience, then YES, they should share with you, the parent, being open to any categories or items they might have missed or not thought of, but it is THEIR job to act on it. We the parents are learning to stop the hover crafts now, bit by bit. It is a slow learning process for us as well. You'll see, though, this WILL be a great thing! Gather your pearls!
So here we are, mid August, and the time is drawing near, college time! And if this is your child's FIRST year, the excitement, the enthusiasm OR the dread will start to show a little bit at a time. The emotions could show in their eagerness to start school shopping now, or their look of doom and cries of "What if's", like "What if I don't like my roommate?' or "What if I can't find my classes?", or "What if I get homesick or don't like the food or, or, or" and on it goes. Some personalities respond to the coming stress by just shutting down all talk whatsoever and acting like nothing new will be happening. Finally, two other behaviors come to my mind. Your child might be coming to you with a greater need for hugs and affection OR they might try starting arguments for no good reason other than THEY are stressed. Oh boy! This is quite a mix of possibilities, not to mention the rare bird that is cool as a cucumber ready, eager but emotionally calm to begin their new adventure. By far, this is the easiest "reaction" to deal with as a parent, but for those of us NOT so lucky, make sure YOU have time to breathe, and think so that you can have the calming effect upon your son or daughter. Our children look to us, the parents, for clues as to how they should react to certain situations. Yes, this happens even at the age of 18 too, although they would absolutely deny it. They just can't help it. It's been ingrained in them since birth. So, be the clue to positive thought, patience, and an approach to life which goes like this: One Step AT a Time!! And of course, offer LOTS of hugs!! :)