Our kids are more privileged than my husband and I ever were while we were growing up. We didn't have as many toys, as many adventures, and as much time with our parents as our kids do now. Like most millennial parents, my husband and I are giving our kids things we never had because, although our parents did the best they could, we plan on doing even better. That's the point, right? Progress? To give your kids the opportunities you never had?
I came to this country when I was 11 years old. We came with nothing and my parents worked tirelessly for everything. We slept on donated mattresses, ate off tableware we found at yard sales, and once had to toss a rug because it was infested with fleas. I never felt deprived, though. I didn't realize we were poor, although we lived in a one bedroom apartment and wore clothes and ate food provided to us by the local Jewish Community Center (JCC). I still had a great childhood and I loved and appreciated my parents and everything they worked for.
Sure, sometimes I wanted the new roller skates everyone else had and I wished for a nice haircut by a professional rather than my dad (who, well, had no business cutting hair), but I knew I couldn't have everything everyone else had, so it was fine. And at 14, I started working and bought my own clothes and my own shoes.
Only looking back now do I realize what it meant to live in poverty. It meant I didn't get opportunities. It meant I didn't get attention from my parents because they spent every minute working and going to school. It meant my interests and hobbies were not supported nor funded. It meant no one had time to help me with homework or money for a tutor when I didn't understand something. It meant no savings account for college. It meant my brother and I were latchkey kids. It meant no class trips. It meant free school lunches and using public transportation. It meant no Disney World, no vacations, no amusement parks. It meant flying under the radar.
My brother and I didn't need for anything, though. We always had food, shelter, and clothes. Most importantly, we had parents who wanted a better life for us. Our parents worked all day and night just so we could have a life in America. They saved and borrowed and eventually moved into a townhouse in a great school district. I went to prom in a limo. My brother got new roller blades for his birthday. Eventually, my parents worked their way out of poverty and my brother and I never felt the sting.
I married young, straight out of college, had two kids, and have been working relentlessly to give my kids everything I believe they need. My husband and I have persevered through a recession (which truly knocked us on our asses), two layoffs, job instability, living paycheck-to-paycheck, and we have done it all for our kids. Millennials are often criticized, especially millennial parents, but it doesn't take long to realize that our generation is working hard to provide our kids with better. We're busting ass and making sacrifices so our children get the things we never had, like the following: