It's interesting to go visit other people's houses and experience how their family functions, what the general accepted norms are, and what is and isn't allowed. It's also interesting, given that they generally have kids, to see how their type of parenting is and the way that they choose to govern their children's lives. Obviously things are going to be different no matter where you go, but viewing from an unbiased position and basically outside the inner workings of the family make it much easier to actually make an assessment.
For the past few days, I've been staying with my friend Ryan, and I've sort of been able to just get a good feel for how their family functions.
Just like my family, Dad works and Mom stays at home. Mom always seems like she's always on top of things, and works really really hard -- despite the fact that she stopped working at her job a long time ago.
One of the biggest things that stands out is that everyone is happy; everyone gets along and despite the fact that family time doesn't exist super often, everyone has a good time with each other and really loves each other. There's just a good family atmosphere.
They've truly been very very good to me, providing me with a bed, and ample food, meals out to eat, and really just made me feel at home. They're easy to talk to and not intimidating at all and it's just really nice to be able to relax and not worry about ticking somebody off, a feeling I often have in my own house in Jersey.
Their mom is more of the serious one and dad is the joker, but there has to be one parent with some sort of structure. They really value education and send some of their kids to private school, and all of them have been to private school somewhat at least a bit in their lives, and even somewhat home schooled also. They put a strong emphasis on keeping a positive and pure home, and I really respect that. They agree that church should be a strong influence in life and that a strong religious relationship is necessary to have.
But then there are the differences. This may be just personal choice, or maybe a bit of pity for how hard kids have to work, or maybe just the way it is. My parents always told me that they would pay my tuition for schooling, and I would be responsible for everything else, and would be expected to take out the appropriate loans in order to make that happen. This means textbooks, room and board, general expenses, software and architecture supplies and everything else that I want to do for fun, may that be clubs or sports or anything else that requires payment. But they figure a bit differently on this.
A lot of other people's parents will help them out with this stuff, and not even expect it to be paid back. I can complain all I want but in the end, maybe it's better this way for me. Maybe this way I'll be more careful about my money, and learn to budget myself better. But given my crazy schedule, I really need to have some cash on hand for even just food. It's really hard for me to cover all the school expenses and still have some left over for personal expenses. I usually break even financially for the year, and perhaps the real lesson here is that life is tough and you really have to work to make it, especially financially. I really need to start saving up for things and not spending on trivial things that I can do without. Sure I may desire some things, but in the end life is not about things and material items.
Granted, that's really only one difference that I can really point out, and honestly there are definitely a lot more. I'm just a bit distracted right now and don't really feel like searching through my mind to point them out.
I just wish that my parents were more willing to help me out during this time in my life. I'm not asking for handouts for the entirety of life. And I wouldn't want that. And I want my kids to learn the same lesson that I did, that you need to work hard in life and it's not all going to be handed to you. But for now, I could just use a bit of help. That's all I'm asking for. So that I can enjoy a bit of my time at school instead of being stuck working all the time. However right now I'm feeling pretty motivated and excited for the semester to begin and the challenges that it will bring, so we'll see how it goes.
In the end, the family that I'm staying with is just really nice, and makes me wish that I had something similar. They're so sweet and kind and really probably don't know how much it means to me that they're letting me stay here without getting anything in return. I respect them endlessly and look forward to seeing them more in the future hopefully, and whether I do or not, it's been great to experience this, since it really gives me an idea of how I want a future family to function.