Friday, May 30, 2008

Conversation With Dad

I had a long phone call with my dad the other night. As usual, we sort of rambled along, discussing music, cooking, health issues (mostly his), and what's going on with our extended family. Somehow, we also got onto the topic of the economic stimulus payments. He said he had gotten the full $1,200 for him and my mom. I told him about my $19.70.
"What?" he said. "Why didn't you get the full amount? Did they make some sort of error?"
"Uh, no, Dad, I just made too much money..."
He seemed quite surprised. He said he hadn't really registered that there were income limits and what they were. He then made some joke about me being "such a fat cat" at which point I had to remind him of the cost of living in this city and that it doesn't go far.
It's funny, I've never discussed my salary in detail with my father. I've alluded to my budgeting, and the fact that a good chunk of my income can be in a bonus. He knows I've made some career moves and gotten promotions. He knows I have enough money that I've never needed to ask him for help. But I guess he probably never thought all that much about how much I might make, and perhaps he'd be surprised to hear the actual number.
For someone who is so worried about his own money, (and so egotistical about always being right!) he rarely gets into a parental advisory role about how I handle my money. When I was unemployed for a couple of months while living back at home after college, he lent me a little money. After I paid him back, we kind of settled into a "don't ask, don't tell" kind of thing: I didn't ask for advice or help, and he didn't volunteer it. Realizing this makes me feel weirdly grown up, and kind of sad. Life seemed less complicated when father always knew best.


Jerry said...

It can be weird when you surpass your parents' expectations or even your own. Good for you. There are all sorts of growing pains along the way. There's no insurance for a trouble-free parent child relationship but it looks like you've navigated pretty well, so far. I hope this conversation leads to more understanding on your dad's end.


frugal zeitgeist said...

My dad was 82 when he died. There comes a point when parents begin to become more like children in some ways. It's both sweet and sad at the same time: your relationship will evolve in new and unexpected ways, but it can be a hard transition to make.

Mel said...

Everyone around me talks about the stimulus assuming that I am getting it too. My parents asked me the same thing. They were surprised at my income. Living in a big city does suck it out of you.

3beansalad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The day I realized my parents interacted with me like an adult who was more or less an equal was an exciting one for me.

But, the transition to being a source of strength/advice/assistance/comfort - which, unexpectedly, hasn't come much further along - has been a much more complex transition. I feel good that I able to help, and that, more than just being able to, I am making it a priority. But losing the sense that my parents are there for me to turn to has been more difficult to stomach than I had expected.

I can't imagine this all if I were in a position where I were unable to help, however. I have the strangest sense that I became an adult just in time....

Anonymous said...

I've found it interesting that the economic stimulus has caused a lot of awkward discussions that skirt around that touchy subject of salary.

The somewhat innocent question of "What are you going to do with your check?" has led to a lot of long pauses around my office.

If you say "I'm not getting one" or "Mine was $19.70" you've just given a clue to your salary range.

Bitty said...

On the other hand, you should perhaps be very grateful for a parent who doesn't try to interfere in your financial life. My daughter is not so lucky (in-laws full of advice and disapproval).

Anonymous said...

My family talks about the stimulus assuming that I am getting it too. They mention stores offering a 10% bonus. (Some of the stores give a bonus whether or not you cash a stimulus check there, so the deals may be applicable.) I feel happy to have made enough last year not to qualify; on the other hand, even with savings I don't feel economically stable due to the employment and housing outlook and rising prices of healthcare, food, gas, and utilities.