Thursday, 27 September 2012

Responsibility - a job for life

What we learn at the knee, stays with us for life.

This homily I find to be very true and it was so for me. My father was somewhat of a workaholic and as a child he hardly seemed to be around. He had a day job, several, over the years, and he worked in the evenings too, to supplement the family income. My mother returned to work after the birth of both me and my brother so effectively my grandmother raised us.

Neither of my parents could see the point of me having much of an education with me being a girl, whatever career I had in mind. Learn to read, write and add up was all that was important, then leave school and get a job; any job.

The ethic of work is a good one but surely there is more to it than that. In my working life I had jobs that I hated and ones that interested me, up to a point. But never did I get a job that truly fulfilled me. I suppose the job that I liked the most was working in a shop as I am somewhat of a people person and it taught me a great deal. Dealing with the public suited me. I enjoyed the interaction with people, getting to know regulars and being a friendly face to the elderly as you were possibly the only person they spoke to all day.

Of course this wasn't the job I aspired to but being denied the encouragement and opportunity to further my education I had little choice. My school, in those days, didn't encourage it's girls to follow their dreams. If you were not in the top class you were destined for  shop work, a minor office job or a factory. The problem being, you began to believe you were not suited to anything else. Unless you had the support and role model of a parent who had 'bettered themselves' you saw what you were told was your place in society.

It was later that I realised I could have had different choices but these had been unknown to me at the time and no one advised me differently. By then I was married and had two young children. Money was tight and time too. It is easy to look back and think of what might have been but that doesn't do you or anyone else any good.

I would encourage parents to be good role models for their children in all aspects of their lives and set a good work ethic for them. In the present climate it isn't easy, unemployment is high as is redundancy. In that position there is still the opportunity to show that work is still a priority as is sourcing it. To show young people the resources available in finding that all important job is as vital as showing the ethics of going to work and earning money. We shouldn't forget the part that Saturday jobs and volunteering plays either. I encouraged my daughters to take up part jobs while at school and college and both became volunteers with the Guiding Association. Skills learnt at groups such as this are relevant to future employment and in life generally. My elder daughter found that out when she was in Norway as part of her teacher training programme. On an expedition she was the only one who could light a fire in the middle of a snowy forest with damp wood! Yes, as a Guide and then a Guide Leader she had the skill to get a fire going to heat water for a drink and to warm themselves. Also her involvement in the movement sat well on her University application form to start her teacher training.

But does the responsibility stop there?

Having the job is one thing but how you can manage on that pay you earn is another. Getting that pay packet or salary is exciting and a young person can become seduced by money in their pocket.

Parents can help their child set up a bank account and a budget, teach them to pay their way by explaining what needs to be paid for each month. Outgoings such as rent or mortgage, gas electricity, water, taxes, food, petrol or diesel and sundries such as savings and pensions are a priority of life. Children never think of cost, put your clothes in the linen basket dirty and get them back clean and ironed with no thought of what is involved. Electricity, water, washing powder all have to be paid for. On a cold, wet day to be snug and dry at home is idyllic but that central heating isn't free and neither is the house.

I got a shock when I had to start buying my own clothes! The cost of underwear, tights, tops, skirts, coats and most of all shoes was horrendous. Previously my mother had paid and that was it now suddenly I had to start choosing wisely. Food appeared on my plate as if by magic, I ate it with little or no thought about what it cost to put it there. When I started working in the delicatessen department of  a department store I began to realise the relevance of prices. I think it was when people asked for a quarter of this or that and the weight was a little over they said they couldn't afford that much. I began by thinking it was only a few pence but by listening I soon realised that those few pence added up over a week and had a great relevance on their choices of food, heat or accommodation.

When I married we were both working and between us we set a budget for the week. Menu planning was also high on the agenda so we shopped once a week at the supermarket for ease and stuck to the plan which in those days was easy to do as prices tended to stay stable and not change from week to week.

After our first daughter was born I vowed to shop more locally and got to know the local butcher, greengrocer and corner shop owner. We still did a bigger shop for things like washing powder and washing up liquid the heavier items but mostly our food items were fresh and local as I believed you got better value for money. I found the corner shop  to be especially useful and once a week I would buy bacon pieces (pieces left over from the bacon he sliced)  from him to make a bacon pudding or put in a casserole. My mother was horrified! I couldn't understand why as the bacon was meaty and had hardly any fat, I got a cheap meal and it saved me cutting it up. I thought I was being resourceful!

The principles of being adaptable rate highly and both parents and teachers have the responsibility of being the role models for future generations. Work isn't just 9 to 5 with a pay packet at the end; it is a life style. It means responsibility, encouragement, endurance, decision making, budgeting, negotiation, research, data collecting, making comparisions and putting in place the steps to build foundations for future generations to follow.

Parenthood is a gift and no one has the absolute right to become a parent, but if you do become a parent you take on the biggest job you could ever attain. I believe I was the luckiest woman alive to become a parent; twice. I took the gift I was given and vowed to nurture my children by giving them the best start in life I could with the tools they needed to make their way in life.

Responsibility doesn't end when a child becomes an adult as once they start on their own road in life the opportunities to continue the support and encouragement remain. You cannot relinquish your role in their lives as how you deal with the pressures of family life, work, job hunting, retirement and health worries has a deep impact on them. From a small child who you teach to budget their pocket money to an adult person you discuss mortgages and loans with, you are developping the potential of a responsible citizen.

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating read, so interesting. I hope your children have read it too.

    Dave :)