When your children are small, you imagine a chart that looks something like this:
And then they grow up and you realise it’s actually more like this:
Bee and Belle are 22 and 15 now, (CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE), and yet I don’t feel any less responsible for them now than I did when they were babies. If anything, it just gets more complex. It’s not just about nappies and sleep and cutting sandwiches into the right shapes – it’s about exam stress, social anxiety, navigating adolescence safely and happily – this shit is HARD.
I know it’s not just me though. Legal & General recently completed some research, as part of their ‘Forever a Parent’ campaign, into how we support and advise our children throughout their lives, on matters financial and otherwise. Apparently over 90% of parents still feel responsible for their adult child’s overall wellbeing. (If you’re reading this as the parent of a toddler, assuming that it gets easier, I can only apologise.)
It’s finances too of course. When they’re little, all you’ve got to think about is how to say no to Pokemon cards, or which toddler products to buy at https://skumama.com, but as they get older suddenly it’s student loans, university costs, rent and bills. According to the Forever a Parent research, nearly two-thirds of parents have provided financial support to their adult child in the past year and almost one-fifth had provided financial support to their adult child in the past two weeks.
I’m definitely in that fifth.
It’s as your kids get older too that in begins to dawn on you that they REMEMBER things. I guess I should have learnt from the whole ‘you can have your ears pierced when you’re nine’ thing, but somehow when you’re dishing out advice and information, you often don’t consider that they might actually be paying attention, that they might actually FOLLOW IT FOR YEARS TO COME.
It makes you wonder doesn’t it? I mean you HOPE that they will remember all the profound things you’ve said in rare moments of wisdom, but the chances are that the thing that will stick in their mind is the time you absent-mindedly nodded yes to them asking if it was okay to eat chicken that had turned blue, because you were watching a video on Facebook and not paying attention.
I decided it might be interesting to ask Bee and Belle about the pieces of advice I’ve given over the years that have stuck with them, as well as the kind of things they feel they would still want to come to me for advice about, even though they’re getting older. According to the Legal & General research, financial advice is the most common thing 18 to 40 years old ask their parents for, followed by careers, cooking and car trouble.
Some thoughts from Bee
Hello everyone, it’s me, Bee.
So I’ve been asked to think of some of the advice that my mum has given me that has stayed with me and that I still use all of the time when it comes to day to day life. I hope she has remembered telling me all these but she probably won’t have because she doesn’t remember what she had for dinner yesterday so.
- The rule of second crappest – absolutely diamond advice! She did a whole blog post on it but it’s basically where you go into the supermarket and buy the second cheapest of everything you want. Not the basics version, but more like the supermarket own standard version. Never as fancy as the supermarket fancy version though.
- Money is like a flow – once she said to me that money is like the tides, that sometimes it flows out but it always flows back in at some point. I like to remind her of this advice whenever money is flowing out of her bank account and into mine. Don’t worry, it’ll probably come back to her eventually. (Stifles a laugh.)
- If you hang clothes out to dry properly you won’t have to iron them – this is absolutely a myth. I think her definition of ‘not creased’ probably isn’t the same as mine. Also ‘the creases will fall out as you wear it’ is a lie as well, especially when your boss comments on how shitty your work shirt looks and how he should send you home.
- There’s something funny about microwaves – we didn’t have a microwave for basically my entire childhood until my mum bought my, at the time 7-year-old sister one for Christmas (?!) because she always said there was ‘something funny’ about the way they worked. Which is odd for her because she’s usually so sensible and down to earth about everything. Weird.
- If you run over the cord with the vacuum cleaner, you will die – I’m pretty sure this is one that my mum actually featured on a post she wrote about things HER mum (my gran) told her but I always think of this when I hoover. I also always think about the time when I was doing first aid competitions when I was a kid (yeah, that’s a real thing for children) and in one of the scenarios there was a guy who tore his leg open while vacuuming? Who does that?!
- Have a glass of water – Migraine? Just chucked your guts up? On death’s door? Have a glass of water! This is one of these things that I say now to people, (“Eh, you’re fine! Have a glass of water!”) that makes me shudder at how much like my mother I am becoming.
There are also many things I still ask her for advice on as an adult, even if I know the answer already, in her voice, at the back of my mind.
- What’s going on? Most of the time I don’t actually know and just try to muddle through life doing the occasional bit of adulting.
- Why do I feel like a piece of shit? (see: have a glass of water).
- Am I dying? So far the answer has pretty much always been no. “Stick your hands above your head… see! You’re not having a stroke! Just have a glass of water!”
- How much is a stamp? The answer is it’s total daylight robbery.
- Is this food safe to eat still? The answer she usually gives is just scrape the mould off.
- Can I borrow two dollars?
Some thoughts from Belle
What up, I’m Belle and I’m 15.
Thinking back on all the advice my mother has given me over the years only a few things stick out to me as things that I live by.
- NEVER, and I mean NEVER put marmite in a spaghetti bolognese. I don’t know if this is mum’s personal preference (as I quite liked the addition of marmite in the spaghetti bolognese) or if it’s just a cooking faux pas, I just specifically remember her saying ‘it’s just more of a herby dish’. Take from that what you will but I certainly won’t be putting marmite in a bolognese any time soon.
- Don’t make your bath water too hot or you will feel sick. I feel like this might actually be true as when my bath is too hot, I genuinely do feel sick and have to get out. So thank you for this one mam, I think this one is surprisingly useful.
- You never feel worse after getting things done. This is one that I remember often because I am always procrastinating and putting off doing homework or revision, and honestly I find that I really don’t feel worse after ticking off things from my to-do list. It takes a weight off my shoulders and the homework isn’t as bad as I imagined it to be.
WhAt CaN i SaY eXcEpT yOuR’e WeLcOmE for this beautiful writing from me xoxoxo
What pieces of advice have stuck with you from your parents? What would you still go to your parents for for advice on?
Love this post. Bee in particular is hilarious. :)
She is VERY funny :-) She writes her own blog too you! http://www.teachezbee.com if you fancy a read.
I’m in the ‘ways not to iron’ camp and fully expect to pass this on to my daughter!! I even use GHDs to do collars – tank tops, v necks, waistcoats over a shirt and everything else in non iron fabric. Job done haha. I wouldn’t be able to find my full size ironing board.
Luckily for me it HAS got easier but that’s because the baby phase can have some pretty big health concerns for mother and child (which aren’t always apparent – so it’s really cruel when people unthinkingly say “it just gets worse/harder you know..!” as the person you are speaking to might be at rock bottom with medical tests, symptoms, child’s medical issues etc but look ‘normal’). I don’t think it will continue to get easier by any means but am relieved to be back at “normal level” for now.
Hahaha! I love that you use GHDs! I distinctly remember getting the iron out for something when Belle was a toddler and her covering her ears and looking scared – she had never seen it before and thought it might make a loud noise :-)
Yes! Disability and illness add a whole new later to parsing challenges. My 3 boys are now 18 and 16 (twins) and while there are different challenges, it is so much easier than when they were all small and the oldest was struggling so much with his autism and other difficulties. I still have all the normal teen parenting issues, but at least I can swear and leave the house!
oh I LOVE this. I’m going to ask my 20 year old son that question xx
Love this post!
My Dad always said “Don’t get a credit card. If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it.” I’ve stuck by it & always saved for things I want/need. It’s so satisfying knowing you’ve worked hard to get something instead of getting it then paying for it afterwards.
My Gran always used to say “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” When I was younger I thought this had something to do with actual wills that you write in preparation for death- yes I was a morbid child, ha! However I love the saying now & remind myself of it often x
Love this post. I can hear you in all of Bee and Belle’s words.
My Dad has said countless times and continues to say ‘Whatever you do in life, you’ve gotta to do what makes you happy’ (said with a Somerset accent)
“You never feel worse after getting things done,” is amazing! Simple, memorable and – gasp! – might even be enough to get me off the sofa and up to my desk. So, thanks!
100% with you on the Marmite-free bolognaise, too. People think they can lose any old crap in there – they can’t. We can tell.
Brilliant! Thank you.
My mum is in the ‘everything happens for a reason’ camp. Sometimes it helps, other times it annoys me a bit.
My dad, ‘what’s the worse that can happen?”
Guess they both met at some weird ‘future outlook’ camp.
My dad always told me that “preparation and planning prevent piss poor performance”. I still go to him for advice on all sorts of things. In the past few years it’s been mortgages, Wills, building work on the house, cars…anything that would be considered adulting really. I remember the car journey home after I’d finished my finals at uni. I asked dad when I’d finally feel like an adult and know what to do in adult life scenarios. He basically said he hates to be the one to tell me this but NEVER! All adults are winging it. My world fell apart that day.
“You never feel worse after getting things done” – so simple yet so true! Going to start telling myself this more often as I’m still a champion procrastinator in my 30s :-)
“Never sign anything without reading it first” (my dad) and “Try not to take any of that corporate crap too seriously” (job advice from my mum) are two bits of parental advice that I remember and try to stick to.