Dad’s words to remember

Dad, where does money come from? Will I lose it all?

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My oldest just got graduated from college (yeah me and yeah her!)…

Today I came across a posting that made me think.. hmm.. how much of my advice about money was truly useful.  Take a look at this article in Money Advice.

Now why did I like this article? Well growing up, only gave me one advice and I think it was the worst advice any father can give to his child. He told me:

If you don’t save your money, one day you will lose it all“. Can you imagine the impact of that kind of harshness it has on the long term psyche of a maturing teenager? Well because of these wise words, I grew up being always afraid that I would become poor if I spent money and didn’t enjoy life.. I tried to squirrel away as much money as possible. This was good and bad..

I did manage to save money, but it didn’t stop me from getting into debt..

I always wanted to enjoy life, but had to reel myself in.. Instead of encouraging me to be cautious.. he just flat out said “you will lose it, with your desires“. Again a double whammy

So I as grew up and earned more and more money, I became even more afraid of losing all of my financial independence.. It affected all parts of my life.. I was determined to overcome this personality glitch and it took me a long time, but I think through my kids, I’ve turned the tide on this.

My kids were always taught to be in balance with spending and saving.. Yes they do what they want no mattr what Dad says.. but overall they are quite well adjusted when it comes to money..

 

Elder Care and Parenting

How will you react when you are faced with decisions on elder care before you are ready to tackle them? A parent’s perspective on taking care of his elderly father.

I’ve been writing over the past few weeks about Sandy and the after effects of this super storm on people. Sandy left me an unwanted gift and responsibility as well, I realized my elderly father was in need of an intervention as he was in poor shape physically and mentally. He is 84 years old and has lived alone for years.

My dad chose to hide his deteriorating condition from me and others. After being told by his caring neighbors as I picked him up during the power failure in his building and Spending 3 to 4 days with him while we were “power less”  revealed to me his true state of being. It was sad.  I did not expect to be thrust into the forefront as a primary caregiver for elder care so quickly. I always saw my father as the man who was so independent, strong, stoic and wanted to be alone and he would never need my help. Yet it was painfully obvious over the days I spent with him, he had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer take care of himself.

What I realized also was that I had ignored the danger signs because, of my selfish prejudices on what I thought of my father. I allowed my personal feelings to get in the way of responsibility and I guess this is the guilt speaking, but I’m sure many children who are thrust unwillingly into this role may feel the same way.

When life returned to some resemblance of normalcy I did what I had to gain control of his life. Even as he resented, my intrusion into his personal life, I had to gain control of his affairs. Every part of his personal life was a mess from where and how he lived to his mental state. A lesson to be learned here is that the few steps that I took to gain control of his financial and his medical life will now enable me to at least be able to take care of him on his terms.

I quickly realized how ill he was and took him to a doctor (which he had not done so for years!). The new doctor, quickly advised me to admit him to the local hospital via the emergency room. He’s been in the hospital for over 8 days now with his mental state in tatters with dementia and his physical state now being a shell of what I knew of him over the years.

A man who could balance his bankbook, penny to penny is now not able to walk, feed himself and has no idea why he is in the hospital. Of course his stubborn nature doesn’t help his outlook.. A man who was always independent now has to rely on everyone else to take care of him.. I can imagine how that feels.

I have empathy for my father, even as I was never really emotionally close to him and neither is he the most loving father anyone could have. I quickly realized all my old wounds had to heal quickly and my forgiveness and being able to go above and beyond as his son, was key to helping him. For me being helping him in his time of need, was never a priority and now my only priority is making him comfortable as his primary caregiver.

I do want to share with you with you a few thoughts for each of you to think about when what YOU must think about elder care.

  • If you have an elderly parent, YOU MUST have “The Talk” with your elder parents: This involves financial and medical power of attorney. I got lucky, only due to my instincts and my wife’s ability to push me to get things done.
  • Make sure you and your family is prepared to make one person the “in charge” of all financial and medical matters related to the elderly relative. If you can’t do this, split the responsibilities between family members. Everyone should contribute and support the individual (to keep him/her sane). In my case, my wife and kids have stepped up and given me the critical support during this difficult time.
  • Be prepared to dig into financial records that you had no clue that existed. I had to dig through mounds of paper at my dad’s house to figure out his finances. Shockingly, even with his ongoing dementia state, his finances were in perfect order!
  • Make sure you have full access to the medical history of your elderly parent. Without this, doctors will not even recognize you.
  • Make sure you have in writing, signed and notorized your elderly parent’s wishes in case of any final health care of end-of-life care decisions have to be made. There are many sites on the internet that allow you. I found this site and everyone should visit the site fivewishes and fill in/print out the forms that this site will create for you for FREE. If I knew of this site, I would have been in better shape than I am now. I am preparing my fivewishes ASAP and getting them witnessed and notorized. New Jersey is one state that accepts these five wishes as a legal document.
  • Talk to your parents. Keep the lines of communications open. Don’t allow them to be reclusive and isolate themselves. If I had paid more careful attention to my father’s deteriorating condition, I’m almost certain that we would not be in the situation we are currently in.
  • When your elderly parent needs care, make sure you balance your life with the need to take care of your parent. I’m finding that the more I dedicate to my dad’s care, the less I’m taking care of my emotional and physical health.
  • Keep things in perspective in a daily basis. As the days progress, treat each day as a new day and wish for the best. Each day will be different as I see with my dad in the hospital. There is no guarantees when it comes to an elderly person being in a hospital, and you have to take everyday as a “moment in time”.
  • Make sure you tell your employer of the work-life balance you are facing. Many employers today will be very considerate and give you plenty of leeway to do what yo u need to do.

I could ramble on and on beyond this point (which everyone who knows me, will agree that I’m very good at), but I think I’ve put on paper, my thoughts as I progress through the minefield that is known as elder care. I like to call it when a parent takes care of parent..

As I proceed down the path to taking care of my father, I now realize that every day is an adventure in to the abyss of the unknown. Yet I can peek into the abyss of darkness, if I prepare myself and do the research and use my natural given ability to dig into details. I guess old habits just follow you around..

I’ve linked some articles below on elder care, I

Gas Money

Dad’s taxi is

Updated on 02/13/12: I figured that I’d go back to this topic since we had another implosion on this issue at my home today. Of course the conversation ended the same way as always.. Everybody stomping off in their respective spaces and being furious.

What is the right balance? Should a Dad just bite the bullet and accept the fact that his almost 20-year-old just doesn’t get it?

Maybe I am wrong. I should just accept the fact that until the “circle of life” comes around and bites someone in the a*%, they just will not get it. Getting a part-time job for a few hours a week is pretty un-reasonable (As working at McDonalds, is a step down in the social status).  Yes even as I sit here in front of my computer screen, I realize that me being a staunch supporter of the work ethic and responsibility is truly unreasonable.

For now, I’ll just continue to provide full and absolute maintenance and caring of the car and P will continue to use it to her benefit.. of course until it breaks down and Dad has to get it fixed.

When I sit back, I think I am being pretty logical to expect today’s x/y generation child to behave in this manner  Things just are given without actually earning it.

The words still reverberate in my mind when she was 13 and I first bought my “New Car”: “Dad, thanks for buying the car. Of course you know,  this car will be mine when I turn 18”. Hmm. I should have seen things for what they were at that time. Almost a sense of deja vu, but into the future. I even offered my “other car” my Oddessy but no way, that care was way “uncool” for a teenager to drive. Gosh, when I was growing up, if my dad would have offered me his Dodge Dart for Free, I’d have done the happy song.  But as the kids say today: “That was then, this is now. We just cannot be seen in an un-cool car Dad!”.

Oh well, tomorrow the brakes, then soon after the tires… After all Dad’s Taxi (My old Highlander” is no longer my tax)i, but something that I watch coming in and out of the driveway.

Am I being unreasonable? Let me know what you think..

 

*****Original post is below.

Last night I had an extensive and animated conversation with my older daughter about gas money. Specifically whose responsibility is it to pay for Gas for the car SHE drives to and from college and to drive her BFF’s around in. Needless to say.. Dad was the bad cop because he insisted on that his daughter pay for gas since he paid all the other expenses related to the car..

What do you think? If Dad pays for everything (maintenance, insurance, registration) isn’t it fair to ask the her of the car to pay for Gas? Especially when the driver does have a job which can pay for gas? Yes she doesn’t make a lot of money.. but as I remember, when I was growing up (in the ancient 70’s), I financed my car including all maintenance! Yes that 1972 Plymouth Duster should could eat up gas!

Of course many people can say “That was then, this is now Dad”, but as part of a parents responsibility is to teach their children fiscal responsibility and being able to properly determine which are fixed expenses (gas, utilities, RENT) and which are discretionary (Gifts and entertainment).

Don’t get me wrong.. my daughter is a great kid, but when it comes to money..the buck stops there. Literally!

See when she was unemployed, I paid all the expenses for my car which she uses. Now that she has some income coming in, I felt it’s time we had some equality with expense sharing.. Again, Dad is the bad cop for even asking for this!

What do you think? Am I being unreasonable? I won’t ask this question in my household in near future as my daughter now has gotten her gas funding from her… Mom..

Parenting – What’s your style?

Today, I’m going to write about a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Parenting.

What is your parenting Style

There are many  schools of thought in on parenting. Below is the two that I struggle with on a day by day basis.

  1. The Authoritarian Parent (“Micro Parenting“) – In the business world, we’ll equate this to “micro-managing” a child. In real life, this is the overbearing parent that is constantly molding, probing, prodding, and making the child in a possible self-image.
  2. The Permissive Parent (“Hands Off Parenting – In the business world, you can refer this to “no management direction at all”. In real life, this is a parent who just stays back and let’s the child make his/or her  decisions of mistakes.

How do you establish the right balance between the two?

Now I don’t consider myself to be the best parent in the world, but I have always tried to guide my kids to “do the right thing” and “be an all-rounder”.  In my house we have two kids that are not only 7 years apart but worlds apart in their DNA makeup and their outlook and perspectives.

  • The younger one, is a go-getter, extremely sensitive and wants to succeed at any cost and does whatever is necessary to reach her still evolving goals, and she’s not even a teenager yet. This is the child that is harder to manage, because she’s all over the place and always challenging the Status Quo. In my house this is my “American Idol Child”. She even blogs!
    • This child is a non-stop communicator and will not stop discussing till she gets her point across. This is more like me I guess. Of course my friends may think otherwise.
  • My older one is a teenager in college and she’s on the opposite spectrum with DNA. She’s easy-going and really just wants to “go with the flow”. This child doesn’t have much of an outward desire to excel in anything much, but just wants to “be”. I could spend hours and hours talking to her for a stretch, but the channels of communication are uni-directional. From me to her.
    • In my mind’s eye, this is a passive child who doesn’t directly interact with her environment, but treads water ever so slowly that there is not much year of year differences.
    • At times she shows flashes of brilliance and may even be misunderstood to be a “selfish, self-centered child” for only being a go-getter for things she wants for herself.

How does a parent cultivate these two unique personalities and DNA composition? what is the right balance of parenting style match the child?

For my younger one, I must always raise the bar and challenge her to excel, whereas the older one, I need to constantly push her to find something that will interest/challenge her.

For my older one, I must always push her to establish “any” goal to work to. Otherwise, I’m not sure that she will ever set a goal which will interest/challenge her.

It’s as tough balance for any parent to follow. At least I struggle to balance the needs of each of these kids.

Here are some of the things I have to catch myself from not doing to maintain an equal footing as a parent:

  • Compare the achievements of one to the other
  • Use the classic line – “Why can’t you be like your sister, she doesn’t need any push in the right direction”.
  • Punishing the one that is yet to establish or even vocalize an “attainable goal”. Of course for me this one is too easy. Just take away my child’s body attachment to social media (her blackberry, or her Mac)!
  • Praising one over the other (in front of each other), because this obviously gives the older one a “complex”. What kind of complex  you can figure that one out.
  • Using the daily/weekly/monthly parent lectures, where the child will in minutes shut down and roll his/her eyes

There are many more bad “helicopter parenting” strategies that I can write about but I think you get the idea..

Now what are successful techniques that all of us a highly paid parents do use?:

  • Rewarding positive behavior and success
  • Being friends first and then parents. Even the first part is hard to do!
  • Drawing the lines and boundaries  for acceptable behavior and enforcing these boundaries
  • Being clear, concise, honest and direct in what you expect from you child. For me, I always tell my kids this is directly associated with “doing the right thing” for any situation that the world throws at you.
  • Constant Coaching and Communication – As a parent, the lines between the two of these things have always been blurred, as my coaching style can easily be perceived as “sarcastic encouragement”.
  • Being involved with your child’s daily life, without being intrusive. Allow your child to experience success and failures in their relationships and activities as they grow up?
    • I today’s Facebook age, how can you be your child’s friend without being overstepping the boundaries of being your child’s friend?
    • For every failure there is always to successes!
  • Trust but Verify: Now this is the hardest one for me. I trust my kids to do the right thing, but I how do I verify that the right thing has truly been done?

I could go on and ramble more and more, but as a parent what strategies work for you? As a dad who is constantly trying to balance his actions with some sense of positive reinforcement, I’d like to hear from you if you have any ideas..

Dad…

Kids and On-Line Usage

I heard about this yesterday and as a parent of a Tween and a Teenager, I absolutely couldn’t wait to comment on this.

From the NY Times:

The average young American now spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the hour and a half that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones. And because so many of them are multitasking — say, surfing the Internet while listening to music — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into that seven and a half hours. The study’s findings shocked its authors, who had concluded in 2005 that use could not possibly grow further, and confirmed the fears of many parents whose children are constantly tethered to media devices. It found, moreover, that heavy media use is associated with several negatives, including behavior problems and lower grades. Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston who directs the Center on Media and Child Health, said that with media use so ubiquitous, it was time to stop arguing over whether it was good or bad and accept it as part of children’s environment, “like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.” While most of the young people in the study got good grades, 47 percent of the heaviest media users — those who consumed at least 16 hours a day — had mostly C’s or lower, compared with 23 percent of those who typically consumed media three hours a day or less. The heaviest media users were also more likely than the lightest users to report that they were bored or sad, or that they got into trouble, did not get along well with their parents and were not happy at school. The study could not say whether the media use causes problems, or, rather, whether troubled youths turn to heavy media use.
…On average, young people spend about two hours a day consuming media on a mobile device, the study found. They spend almost another hour on “old” content like television or music delivered through newer pathways like the Web site Hulu or iTunes. Youths now spend more time listening to or watching media on their cellphones, or playing games, than talking on them. …The heaviest media users, the study found, are black and Hispanic youths and “tweens,” or those ages 11 to 14.

My kids do spend some quality time with us, be it between Facebook and texting or checking email (multiple accounts), or playing on-line games, or playing DS, or playing on the iPhone..

As a parent, it is our responsibility to not reward our children when they turn to technology instead of the family, but to encourage them to communicate with us as opposed to the new “boob tube” their on-line media connectivity.

We (parents) are the ones that give the kids all the devices that enable them to spend all their waking (non-school) hours on them.. Any idea on what we can do to reduce this?

Simple:

  • Limit usage by establishing hours of use.. I’m sure this is easier said than done. I have not had much success with this.
  • Establish family time – I don’t mean dinner time.. I mean be it 1/2 hour or one hour, this is a time, where you sit and talk.. We do this in our house every day.. I love to see my kids just sit there and say nothing much.
  • Sign Contracts of Use: Sign a contract with your child on usage limits of technology. I’ve tried this and it works about 25% of the time..
  • Reward a child with technology only when they deserve it: I know this is rather a reckless statement. Which parent doesn’t want to give their child a cell phone or a Wii or a computer to do “schoolwork” or for “entertainment”?.   This is very hard to implent in the technology era..

Do you have any suggestions?

Parenting and Allowances

Is giving a child an allowance a privilege or a right?

parenting_pyramidIs giving a child an allowance a privilege or an guaranteed right as a passage into adulthood?

When I was growing up in the 1970’s in NYC, I had a similar conversation with him (he’s of course from India and his thoughts are a bit different from mine). He chose to give me a minimal allowance per week (let’s just say less than $1). At that time, it was enough to buy some bubble gum and Marvel comics from the local 5 and 10 Cent store in my neighborhood in Flushing, Queens.

Of course I was not satisfied (nor happy) and decided during my teenage years, to bypass this menial token allowance (in my teenage mind of course) and earn to feed/supplement my weekly additiction to pinball, stickball, baseball cards and my all time favorite Spiderman/Captain America Comics. So I did odd jobs, paper routes, and anything else resourceful to feed my vices.

Now about 30 years later, I just had a conversation with my 10 year old about allowances and I realized that I had become my father! We finally settled on $5 per week (with chores as motivation of course!).

allowancesSo going back to my original question: Is giving a child a privlilege or a right?

In my mind: I know every child deserves some money for spending, but what amount is proper?  Additionaly, should a parent expect anything back for this allowance?

My thoughts on both these questions are:

Yes, every child should be given an allowance, but should expect some work (outside normal household chores) from the child.

I’m sure may parents might disagree with the above, but being from the Baby Boomer generation, riding the middle of the road on this subject is difficult for me.

I do hope if you have some thoughts on this issue, you do respond to this entry, as I look forward to some insights… 🙂

TTYL for now.

Valet Pickup – MT daycamp

valet pickup for parents from Day Capmp

Valet PickupA few weeks ago, I had to pick up my child from summer camp and got introduced to the new concept of  “Valet Pickup”.  Now I’m sure you are asking yourself, what the heck is “valet pickup”?

As a trial in my town of Middletown NJ: You are given  a 8 1/2 by 11 Pink sheet of paper with your child’s name. When you go to pick up your child, you hand this to the “attendent” or volunteer and he/she goes and brings your child from the day camp to your car.. I gotta tell you this concept totally blew me away. Instead of parking and going inside to gymnasium to get my child, my child (correct one) was delivered to my car!

This pick up service is indeed the next fad that I think will sweep the nation once it’s publicized..

Benefits:

  • For parents that are tight on time, this makes the child pickup from day camp a speedy and efficient process!
  • Creates additional jobs for teenagers who act as valets

Kudos to the Middletown parks and recreation for beta testing this concept this summer and hope they keep it for the long term.

Rules for the Kids of the 21st Century

11 Rules for kids as listed by Bill Gates.

I was reading my email this morning  and a friend of mine sent me these rules for kids.  I was going to send it out to my friends, but I figured I’d share with this my friends in the blogsphere.  I’m sure that many kids/teenagers have seen these rules before, but sharing with you folks…

Fortunately, both my kids follow most of the rules listed below. The rules are especially pertinent as we approach summer when many of our teenage kids are out there looking for jobs are starting their first job….

To reinforce this powerful message, I posted the following on the bulletin board that we have in our house.   I especially liked Rule # 1.

In my house, my kids even went out and bought me a shirt a few years ago with the following quote and it is a classic:

“MYOB, Next issue move on”.

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Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!

Rule 2 : The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parent’s fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them. Parents stop babying your kids and giving them everything they want.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time..

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to
leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

If you can read this – Thank a teacher!

Updated on 6/18:

Thaks to all for their comments.. I don’t think this is copyrighted. I showed this to my kids and they liked it too!

Tickled by Life – Life Enhancement

I was having a really difficult at work this week. 😦  and I needed something to cheer me up.

I came across the site Tickled by Life and before I could finish reading one article, I realized that this Blog was a keeper and wanted to share with my readers.

I especiallly enjoyed the article What goes around Comes around..

Enjoy!

Thrifty Fun – Fun, advice and blogs

This entry comes as a courtesy of my Sis-In-Law (RM). Good work RM. Bet you never thought you’d be published at Dad’s Taxi! 🙂

Thrifty Fun is a pretty cool site which has some really nice featured articles and newsletters which you can subscribe to. The site is family oriented, so it seems to be a pretty good place for information and tips! Most of the focus of this site is related to the home and tips on how to solve household problems. Found that to be pretty useful.

It’s here that I found another link to an interesting My Frugal Life Blog site.The site offers some excellent advice, free newsletters, tips and so much more.  You can browse the various topics and much more.

What I liked best  was the disclaimer for the site. Now I gotta figure out how to do the same for Dad’s Taxi.

Take a look along the bottom of the page and you’ll find some interesting sites for budgeting, savings advice, couponing, ezines (newsletters), etc..

Overall, the site is really nice and deserves a detailed look.. enjoy..

PS. Thanks RM.