On Becoming A Woman Chapter 17

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I’m sorry that updates haven’t been coming as fast as they used to. Part of it is because I have to deal with schoolwork now, as well as working a job where I swear my bosses are trying to make my life as difficult as possible.

But the real reason, the reason that I just can’t make myself post lately, isn’t school or work or even the godawful depression. It’s this book. This book is bad, and at first it was hilaribad, but now it’s just bad. I can’t believe there are actually people out there who fall for this bullshit, and it’s just so depressing.

But we’re not far from the end. We are on chapter 17 out of 19, and then we will move on. I will eventually go back and finish OBAM, but frankly it’s similar enough that there’s almost no point. But not starting what I finish is no longer an option on this blog, so, without further ado, I present:

Chapter 17

Who Pays The Bills?

I don’t really have too much of an issue with the principle of what Shryock is saying in this chapter. Teenagers do need to learn to handle money. There are a lot of ways to teach them about money, and until reading this chapter, I wasn’t sure there was a wrong way to do it. Today I am less sure of that.

If you are a typical teenage girl, financial matters are somewhat mysterious.

Did parents in the 1960s not talk to their children, like, ever? When I was a child, my family was fairly well off. And yet my father still talked with me about money. I imagine that if my family had not been well off, my father still would have talked to me about money, only the talks would have been a lot more serious.

Do typical parents not talk to their children about money?

Until now you have had very little money to handle. But you are beginning to see that money is an important factor in life. You have discovered the need of money for this and that. You may have observed that there hardly seems to be enough money to go around. You have begun to wish that you could have more money to spend as you would like.

In my family, there was enough money, always, for necessities. We didn’t always have enough for things we wanted, but I took for granted that I would always have what I needed.

This absolutely was not the norm for Adventist families, at least, in the churches I went to. A lot of kids at school used to talk about money struggles, how they would have to wear snow suits in the house because they were just too poor to afford to heat the house. So, when Shryock talks about there not being enough money to go around, I’m going to assume that’s what he’s talking about.

Perhaps we’ve had daydreams wherein we have a thousand dollars. We then discover that that is not enough, so we raise it to $2,000. But even if we raise the number to so much as, gasp, one million dollars, we still won’t have enough to do everything we want.

Well, no, most people aren’t going to have enough to do everything they want, but at least they’d have enough to be able to pay the fucking bills.

My personal observation has been, however, that in the cases of most people the time never arrives when there is extra money available for anything but actual necessities.

I daydream of the day when I will have money for all my necessities. Wants can be worked out later, but at this point I’m afraid that not having to rely on my parents is nothing but a pipe dream.

As I have noticed the struggles many of my various friends are having in trying to make their income fit their expenditures, I have learned that rich people have just as much difficulty, on average, as those who are poor. It seems the problem of handling finances cannot be solved simply by larger incomes.

If this wasn’t a kindle book, I’d have thrown it across the room by now.

Look, I’m sure there are some people out there who are poor because they mismanage their money. But at least in this decade, they are absolutely not the norm. The normal poor person is, to quote one of the recent episodes of the SDAtheist podcast, “trying to divide up a pie that is just too small.” Minimum wage jobs just don’t pay enough to live on. Getting a better job usually requires college, and that’s very expensive.

Rich people may not have everything they want, but they have everything they need. They can go to the grocery store and not burst into tears trying to decide between fruit or vegetables, because they cannot afford both. If their appendix ruptures and the insurance company decides that to cover everything except for $3K,  the richer folk will be able to pay it. Richer folk may still have to give up something they were saving up for in order to do it, and don’t get me wrong, that sucks, but at least they’re, you know, not living under a fucking bridge.

But in the course of my observations I have found a few individuals who seem to have learned how to live within their means. These fortunate people enjoy life thoroughly and still have money to spare for additional enterprises. They are not necessarily rich. Many of them have only modest incomes.

If someone has a modest income, then of course they will have enough money for fun thing sometimes. I do not have a “modest” income. I have fucking tiny income. If my parents weren’t helping me, I would have killed myself by now because I do not have enough to live on.

I have tried to find out how they are able to mange their money matters in order to come out ahead. It seems that the secret is in learning how to control the desire for the things that money can buy.

I desire to have enough money to pay my own bills and live in an apartment where I don’t stumble over drunks on my way to the bathroom at night while also having enough money for food and groceries. I’ll be honest and say that I do have desires for things that cost a lot of money, but with a nice modest middle class income, I’d be able to save up for those things and have them eventually, even though it would take me a while.

But no, my problem is that I don’t live within my means. Sure.

As a teenage girl, you doubtless look forward to having a home of your own.

Um, I’m looking forward to having an apartment where *I* get to control the temperature, not the landlord. Does that count?

Maybe you have assumed that the financial responsibilities will fall more heavily upon your husband than upon you.

Not really. My mom was the one who balanced the budget and took care of finances, while my dad was the one who went out and spent it all.

To his credit, the author says that this isn’t necessarily the case. Marriage is a joint effort, you see, and husband and wife are to share equally in the responsibility.

Therefore, as preparation for becoming a successful wife and mother, you should gain an understanding, even while you are a teenager, of the principles involved in the successful handling of money.

I do agree with this principle.

Even though you plan to be a home maker,

If he had said even if you plan to be a home maker, I would be ok with this. But he says, “Even though.” This implies that he thinks every woman reading this wants to be a home maker.

I have no issues with women who want to be home makers and not have a career. I have an issue with being boxed in and expected to take that route. And don’t tell me that this was the 1960s. Even in the 60s, but especially by the late 60s when this book was written, women were having lives outside of husbands and kids.

Even though you plan to be a homemaker, there may be times in your life when you will need to be entirely on your own resources.

I agree completely with Shryock. Shit happens, ok? You can’t foresee and predict everything. The woman who plans to be dependent on her husband her whole life without a backup plan is unwise.  Often today you see a lot of Christians advocating for a woman to rely solely on her husband, but that’s not what I grew up with and it’s not the attitude most Adventists today have either.

Shryock goes on for a few paragraphs about being dependent on your parents for money, then says

Your parents will doubtless be willing to trust you with the handling of small amounts of money, provided you prove yourself to be worthy of their trust. Their only reason for hesitating to allow you to handle funds is their fear that you might not spend the money as carefully as they.

Or that you might spend the money on the wrong type of music, or the wrong type of books, or the wrong type of clothes, or god forbid JEWELRY. I mean, the reasons for parents not allowing you to handle money are endless. I feel like the author’s perspective as a parent is blinding him a little too much to the fact that some parents really are quite controlling and abusive.

In any case, Shryock suggests that teenagers pick one of their personal needs, estimate how much money is spent on this need, then ask their parents to trust them with that amount of money, with the understanding that the money be used to meet that need. An example Shryock gives is clothes. I happen to think that it is a parents’ duty to clothe their children, but whatever.

Shryock then decides to narrow this down to school clothes. This might be a generational thing, but why do you need clothes especially for school?  Unless you are going to one of those godawful Adventist schools that has a stupidly strict dress code or uniform, why can’t you just wear your regular clothes to school?

The author suggests that a teen carefully price out school clothes and make predictions based on that. Then go to your parents and ask for that amount of money, to be spent on school clothes. If you decide you’d rather blow that money on a fancy illustrated hardcover set of Harry Potter books, well then, no school clothes for you. You’ll just have to make due with last year’s.

There may be times, as there have been in the experiences of my own son and daughter, when you will feel like begging off the arrangement and asking your parents to resume the full responsibility of looking after your needs….. but once your parents have agreed to cooperate with you, it behooves you to go through with your part of the plan.

If a teen wants extra things for themselves, I could maybe see doing this. But if a growing teenage boy needs new clothes because last year’s don’t fit him? That falls under the category of need, and it’s your job as a parent to provide for that.

The author goes on for a paragraph or 2 about keeping records of expenditures, which isn’t a bad idea but really, all of that just kind of gives me a headache. I’m content to look over my bank statement and make sure no fraudulent charges have occurred.

The author goes on for a bit about why keeping records of spending is important. He says it seems like an “unnecessary bother” but isn’t.  For example, if you spend too much money on shoes, maybe the problem is you. You should figure out a way to take better care of your shoes, get your shoes repaired instead of buying new ones, or perhaps spend more money on better quality shoes rather than buying cheap shoes every few months.

Ok, even the people I know of who keep track of their spending don’t keep that careful track. I have a general idea about how much I spend on work clothes, but I don’t break it down by article. “And this is how much money I spent on pants in 2013, and this is how much I spent on contact solution in 2014….” like omg who does that?

As far as the shoe example goes, it’s possible that nothing can be done. Perhaps it would save money if the person buys better quality shoes, but if the person only has $20 to spend on shoes and not $200, and the person needs shoes today, the person can’t get the $200 shoes even though they’d be cheaper in the long run. I like the idea of getting old shoes repaired, however, when I looked into it, I sometimes found that the cost of repairing the shoes would be more than it would cost to just buy a new pair.

After droning on for a bit about the benefits of learning to handle money, the author comes to the most passive aggressive way I’ve seen for a teenager to get out of going to boarding school.

If you are now attending a boarding school, you have an even greater opportunity to learn how to handle money. In such a case I suggest that you make a calculation of how much your parents have been spending each month to keep you in school….it will be proper for you to ask your parents to make this much money available to you personally each month, holding you responsible for paying all your school bills.

No seriously, this would be like the best way ever to get out of boarding school. “Sorry mom and dad, I guess I wasn’t wise enough to be trusted with all that money. Guess you’ll have to put me in public school now. Oh darn.”

Following such a plan will have great advantages. You will become more careful in your expenditures. You will learn to think twice before you buy a book that you might be able to borrow from he library. In your choice of food you will learn to avoid the expensive desserts and to choose, rather, those staple foods that are both nourishing and less expensive.

What the hell?

First off, this wouldn’t work. My grandma went to Adelphian in the 1950s. Even by then the administrators had noticed that students were skipping out on meals to save money, so they implemented a policy wherein students are charged for all meals, whether they attend those meals or not. That was the policy instituted in the 1950s, and it was still in place at GLAA when I went there in the early zeros. I don’t think boarding schools have charged by item since Shryock was a lad. Older readers care to chime in?

And borrowing books from the library? What library? The school at GLAA had a really crappy library full of mostly Ellen White books. I couldn’t even track down a copy of certain classics, and their computer books were extremely outdated. And of course, an Adventist library wouldn’t really have any fiction. Except those historical fiction christian romance novels that have everything in them that regular romance novels have, except for sex.

The only way I could, and did, save money at GLAA was by figuring out the secret code that would allow you to make long distance calls without using a phone card. I then used this code to rack up a phone bill so high that they had to change the code. (I may or may not have been making phone calls outside the country (*coughIrelandcough* on a regular basis.)

Another way of saving money was learning how to shoplift… but we’re getting off the subject. Moving on.

It’s not just a good idea to learn how to handle money, Shryock says. It’s also a good idea to learn how to deal with an employer. It’s a good idea for a teenager to have a part time job.

Unfortunately some teenagers seem to consider work a disgrace. This attitude is common among those who come from homes in which there is too much luxury. But really, the attitude, “I don’t work because I don’t have to work,” is an admission of a poor adjustment to life.

I mean, they’re teenagers. Working could be good for a lot of them, but for some it may prove a distraction from school. I agree somewhat with this paragraph (don’t look down on work) but I would give the rest of it the side eye.

Having a job gives a teenager a certain amount of independence, while also preparing them for the real world. Babysitting is especially a good job for a girl, because it will prepare her to handle housework and children.

Often when parents leave their small children in charge of a teenage girl, they ask her to do certain other things about the home.

Really? I’ve never had anyone ask me to do anything other than look after their child. Maybe if they had a pet that needed to be fed at a certain time, but like, I’ve never been asked to vacuum the living room.

This must be one of those 1960s things I don’t understand because I am a 90s girl.

A few decades ago it was an established tradition that the earnings of the children belonged to the parents. This tradition was based on the difficulties parents encountered in supporting large families, and on the belief that a child should help maintain the parents’ home.

Most parents now acknowledge the personal rights of their teenage daughters and are willing to allow them privileges and responsibilities as rapidly as as the daughters indicate their ability to handle these wisely.

We can only hope.

But the fact remains that your parents spend a considerable amount in maintaining the home. your support costs them a great deal. It is therefore not fair to your parents for you to assume that the money you earn can properly be spent as dictated by your personal interests and with utter disregard for the support your receive from them. (emphasis mine)

Yes it is. That’s kind of their job as parents. Shouldering all your expenses was kind of what they signed up for when they agreed to have you.

Now, if you’re an adult living with your parents for whatever reason, then sure, I could see them asking you to contribute. But if you’re still in high school, fuck that.

When you begin to earn money you and your parents should have some understanding as to which of your expenses will be met from your own earnings.

If you are still a child, and even if you’re 18 but still in high school, it is the parents’ job to meet your needs. Take all the money you are earning from your job, or at least most of it, and set it aside for college.

Of course you should agree to pay for things of a personal nature. If you are attending boarding school, it is wise for you to meet as many of your expenses from your own earnings as possible.

Let us be generous and assume that said student is not being forced into going away to Academy. You are still basically advocating for a 14 year old to try and live on their own as much as possible without parental support. In our day and age Even for 1968, that is ridiculous.

The amount of employment you should accept will naturally depend somewhat on your parents’ financial circumstances. But even though the family income is adequate, it is a good thing for you to have employment.

The amount of employment you should accept depends on your ability to balance school with work. Especially if you are in high school, your education comes first.

If your family’s income is meager, or if you have several brothers and sisters, and the expenses of maintaining the home run high, it is only fair that you should accept the responsibility of working as much as possible to support yourself.

I’m done. I’m tired. I’m a broken record. For the last time, it is a parent’s job to raise a child until he or she is 18 or graduates high school. If you decide to have eleventy bajillion kids, it is on you to provide for all of them, not on your teenager to try and support themselves before they’re even out of high school.

Attitudes like this also marginalize poorer teenagers. Richer children get to concentrate on going to school and figuring their lives out. Poorer ones have to work as much as possible and are somehow still expected to find time for the mountains of homework they have to do. That’s not right.

The author goes on for a few paragraphs about how teens need to pay tithe from their earnings. Offerings aren’t mandatory, but you should give them anyway.

Furthermore, it is good for your Christian experience and for your personality development to develop an attitude of generosity. You also must increase your sense of loyalty to the groups of which you are a member.

You must invest in the cult, so that whenever you are tempted to pull away, you’ll remember how invested you are in it.

Sometimes I lay awake at night crying because I think of all the money I gave to the church over all those years, and how little good it did me. I want that money back, and if I could sue for back tithe, I would. I’d use it to pay for college. Or do something useful. Or make up for the fact that I spent money to make sure that others would suffer as I did.

The author then goes on for a few paragraphs about how important it is to build up a savings account. See, it’s far better to be able to say, “I could buy that if I wanted to, but I won’t.” Than to have to later say, “I could have bought that, but I can’t.”

And I agree, setting aside money for savings is important, and it does feel nice to know I can afford things, even though I technically can’t. I do have $600 in my checking account at the moment. However, if I spend that money now, I won’t be able to pay my rent later. It is nice to now that I could buy that new doll I want, even if doing so is unwise. (Once I do pay the rent I’m going to feel horrible and broke, but that’s beside the point.)

The chapter, mercifully, ends here. And now I kind of feel like jumping off a cliff. Instead I’m going to go try and drown myself in the shower. At least, until the hot water runs out. But that’s ok, because neither I nor my parents are the ones paying the water bill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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