fiddlehead.....every changing, ever growing

fiddlehead....ever changing, ever growing

Friday, August 12, 2011

$ a tough question $

This post makes me very uncomfortable.....it really, really does.  Especially with what is going on in my mind as our daughter's homeland is stricken by famine.  It is impossible to reconcile.   But I want to write about this question my son posed because it makes me think about how to handle our extreme fortune respectfully and consciously.  So, my middle son, Drew, asked me very innocently, from an 8 year old's mind and perspective.  He just wanted to know....
"Are we rich?"  

When he asked this question I felt immediately uncomfortable and unsure of how to answer.  I mean the fact that he is asking that question speaks volumes.   He is aware and wanting to make sense of this world, especially as we are often talking about the crisis in the horn of Africa and in relation to Tessa's homeland.  

So, then the question for me is how do I answer it so he is aware of his many blessings, our many, many life blessings.  How do I answer it honestly in a very real realistic material sense.  How do I make sure he can handle the answer and be sensitive and respectful?  And how do I answer it from a broader life and world perspective?   I knew I wanted to be able to answer this questions in a way that addresses what we ourselves were born into (middle class families in the USA) as well as what we have worked hard to create.

I stumbled...I wasn't particularily eloquent.  This is basically how I answered this 8 year old's  question...
"Drew, we have sooooo much.  We don't have to worry about food, where to live.   Many people worry about their next meal here and all over the world.  Daddy works so very hard to make money for our family to live.  He went to school for a long time to be able to be a Dr. to help people, and he is paid well for how hard he works.  I am able to not have to work anymore because of this and be able to be home full time with you.  There are lots of people who don't have enough food, or clothes or a home all around the world and right here where we live in Monroe.  Does that make sense?".   He answered yes and seemd to understand, but I realize this is a message that will need to be reinforced over the years.

The truth is we have so much and it makes me uncomfortable at times.  I do love our life.  I love our beautiful home and being able to give our children so many opportunities.  I am keenly aware that our life isn't made of up the things and luxuries we have, but I do enjoy them.  Sometimes there is that guilt for having so much when you see suffering, here or anywhere.   Of course we are talking a lot in our house about the crisis in the horn of Africa.  Thinking about a place we love, our daughters homeland, her birth family....we pray and hope and do what we can from here.   I  want to  focus on how we live our lives.  What we do with our lives, how we live in this world.  

Money is so uncomfortable to talk about, isn't it?  But I think our kids need an honest answer, how else do you learn about the world?   (Is this making you uncomfortable yet?)
I want to get better at talking about it with my kids.  I don't want money to be a secret or a mysterious thing.  And I don't want them to see "rich" in a one dimensional way.  I want them to see the riches of their lives honestly.  They swim in a pool in their yard.  They have traveled and played around the country and world.  They ride on a jet-ski and boat.  This is in a very material sense.  But I also hope their lives are rich in love,  in family, in friendship, opportunity, education and filling their minds and all the basics...a home, water, food.

This is my kids frame of reference....they have A LOT and need for nothing.  Of course, I wouldn't want it any different, but with this comes a responsibility to make sure they appreciate their lives, to see it honestly and give back in their own way.   And I am very aware that when you have all of your needs met and beyond you need to be grateful and use your life to the best of your ability.
"To whom much is given much is required"

So this simple question, "are we rich?"....stirred up a lot in me.  It made me uncomfortable....and usually when something makes you feel that way you know you should look at it!
But I see that despite my discomfort my little guy is just trying to figure out the world, his place in it and I am here to help guide in that process.  Raising children who live in this world with integrity, honesty.   I want them to understand the many priviledges that they were born into, given.  I want them to have gratitude, to live gratiously and within a larger world perspective.

The answer is yes.....yes we are.  We are so very rich.  Our lives are rich in love, in water and food, in community, in education, in friendship, in family......   

4 comments:

fiddlehead said...

The Lost Planetista has left a new comment on your post "$ a tough question $":

Yeah. Not only are we rich, but we live inside the palace gates of the world. It's an incredible responsibility- and I love that you're teaching your kids about it.

Once, a long time ago, I was in a developing country in a very poor village. I was sitting on a porch talking to a guy who was my age- a local of the village. I was trying to say that even though I was American I wasn't rich by American standards. I was, for some naive reason, in the mood to argue that I was rich. (I was young- what can I say? I was still coming to grips with it all. I guess I still am). Anyway, the guy looked at me and asked me how many pair of blue jeans I owned. I honestly couldn't count them all. Would I count the ones that made me look fat? Would I count the ones that had worn out? And that's when I realized that he was right. He was so right. I was rich. I am rich. I've never forgotten that conversation.

Beautiful and insightful post BTW. For real.

S said...

This is such a great post and conversation to have with your son. We started having conversations with my son about socio-economics when he was the same age and he and his friends started looking at each others lives with a different lens than when they were younger. The conversations still continue, but usually end with the same sentiment, how fortunate we truly truly are.

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Gina Norma said...

We are beyond rich, if we gave away half of what we owned we'd STILL have too much. Thank you for your post, as I want to be rich in a different way, that is my goal. Rich in love, peace, and compassion--why can't we all focus on the richness. Thanks Jeni!

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