Do you need a little help understanding your parents? Sometimes, you just can’t figure them out. They hold on to everything they possess and just won’t let go. All their stuff is special to them, and they want you to want it. You don’t. In addition, they simply won’t spend any money on themselves. They are the definition of “thrifty”. There is a reason for this.
They are called the Silent Generation or sometimes, the Traditionalist Generation. These are the folks born between 1928 and 1945. They served in Korea and lived in a country afraid of the spread of communism. Their parents were the Greatest Generation (Depression, WWII) and they gave birth to
you, the Baby Boomers (Vietnam, Civil Rights, free-love).
Because their parents lived through the Depression, it was drilled into their heads to be frugal; “don’t waste anything”. They were brought up with the constant reminder that they should hang onto something, because “you never know when you might need it.” They scrimped and saved all their lives.
They worked hard and played it safe. Their motto was “Keep your nose to the grindstone.” As young parents, they just wanted to put food on the table for you, their children. They worked hard so you could have a better life and not go without things like they did.
You continuously heard, “We had nothing when we were growing up, except each other”. Family and hard work meant everything to them. Yes, they walked to school, up-hill both ways.
They appreciated the simple pleasures because that was all they had. They didn’t have the kind of luxuries that we take for granted today. They never wasted anything. They still won’t. It isn’t in their abilities.
In addition to holding onto stuff, they absolutely won’t spend money on themselves. As kids, if they hurt themselves, they certainly didn’t run to the doctor. Stitches? Not likely. They sacrificed all their lives, so why they would suddenly spend money frivolously on themselves?
Now that they are clearing out their house, they really want you and the grandkids to take things. It is important to them that the treasures that they held onto are appreciated. Instead of saying, “I don’t want that stuff”, how about saying “Thanks, Mom, I would love that.” Then ask for more. Help them.
Make an agreement ahead that once you take something, it is up to you what to do with it. You can use it, gift it, donate it, or pass it on. They have this need to control the future of their stuff. It really will help them if you take things.
Also, let them know that I have a message for them:
Folks, you want to take care of your children. You always have. Guess what? Your children are in their 50’s and 60’s, themselves. Yes, they are getting older, too. You saved all your life so you could live comfortable in your retirement. Have an open conversation about how you can do exactly that.