Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mixing traditions

We knew that when Shaun and Jenny got married, there would be some mixing of traditions. Jenny was raised as a Buddhist, but her parents still celebrate Christmas when they are in the states during the holidays. Jenny converted to Christianity when she was a teenager but has never really advertised to her parents that she no longer practices Buddhism. They are very big on using traditional methods when determining when to move, how to arrange furniture, and naming children. As such, it took two years for Alexander to get his Chinese name (they had more time to think after Kaitlyn was born) and they've not liked the layout of Shaun and Jenny's apartment or how Alexander's bed must be placed in his room. Because there is a road that intersects another right out side of Alexander's room, their theory is that he can't sleep well because he has too many directions he can take. Well, that couldn't be helped but Jenny and Shaun said they would take their traditions (superstitions) into consideration when looking for a new place to live.

The apartment they live in is not small by apartment sizes, but it's not overly large and there is virtually no storage space. Although it has three bedrooms, they are all small and if they cleared the 3rd one out for the new baby there would be even less space in the living room for Jenny's desk and office supplies (she owns a private tutoring business) or for Shaun's books and such. Jenny's parents offered to help buy them a house, but they also wanted to have a say in what they got. To a point, I understand and agree. They shouldn't put money on the line for Shaun and Jenny to use irresponsibly or to make a decision not grounded enough in reality. They are still young and have never done anything of this magnitude before.

What I don't agree with is that now the money has been proffered, they feel they can tell Shaun how he needs to spend the money he earns and what his future plans should be. Shaun is in the process of paying for a cruise - for June 2011 - for his family to take. They want him to cancel it. Shaun may need to cancel if his ship's deployment schedule changes, but as of yet he does not need to do so. They don't want for Shaun to include us. Well - I didn't either in the beginning. I told him many, many times that it was an expense that I could not undertake and did not want him to undertake. He decided - after consulting with Jenny and getting her permission - that he would include us anyway. He wants us to help with the kids. Or, more specifically, wants me to help with the kids. He'd like for me to be able to take Kaitlyn and Alexander for a couple of hours while he and Jenny (and the new baby) spend some time alone. As alone as you can get with a new baby, but you get the idea. The baby will be about 8-9 months old, depending on when "it" decides to show up. (We don't know if it's a boy or a girl.) When we got the paperwork in the mail advising us of our "trip" I still told Shaun that he shouldn't have done so. He said that it was a gift to cover all the years that he's not gotten us a gift and for all the years in the future that he won't get us a gift. LOL - that was some fine gift!

I am at a crossroads. Shaun is upset with his in-laws. I don't know what direction to take. I honestly thought they liked us. Now, I'm not so sure. They say according to their tradition, it is the groom's family's responsibility to help with the purchase of the home for the son and daughter. I understand that this could be so. They also say that we have more money than we have let on and that we should be the ones giving the money. {big sigh} If they didn't want to help Shaun and Jenny with the house purchase, they should not have volunteered. I do not know how much was asked (because of the language barrier) and I only know what was expressed back to Shaun - then me - through Jenny. I know that it has caused them to have major words, and that is not fair for her family to put them in that position.

I volunteered our financial picture to Shaun. Quite frankly, it's worse than I thought it was. After we pay our fixed expenses, our utilities, car insurance, life insurance, health insurance, gas for the car, medical expenses, etc., I am in the hole $15.58 BEFORE I buy one drop of groceries - and that is if I draw a nearly full paycheck, which I don't do that often. So, I wonder where Jenny's folks would like for us to cut back so I can direct part of our income to their housing?

I'm cutting things back now and I intend to cut back even farther, but what I cut out will just allow us to eat. I would rather go without food than to make Ron give up his cable TV. If he could get out and do things - or could use his hands on a regular basis (some days are worse than others ), then maybe I wouldn't feel so badly about cutting cable. But, when he can get from the bed to the chair and back, that is his whole world.  I know that there is a little bit of cushion there, but not too much. I know I said before that I would cut back the cell phone minutes - and that will save us $15 per month. Not a big savings, but some.

This wasn't supposed to be a message about finances, but I seem to find a way to throw that in don't I? Sorry about that... It's just that finances are always just under the surface, not far away, in the back of my mind. I can't do anything without thinking about finances. (And, before anyone thinks that I could cut back by brown bagging my lunch or other areas, let me clear that up. I carry a lunch 9 out of 10 days and usually that 10th day I just don't eat, or I eat whatever snacks are in my overhead bin. Rarely - less than twice a month - do I buy a soda or a snack from the machine. I don't buy Starbucks (I did at the hospital on Thursday) and I don't buy McDonald's new "fancy" coffees either. I watch these shows where people "find" hidden money each month and mostly it's from eating lunches out, shopping and buying clothes/makeup/accessories, etc., hitting the ATM, getting their hair done - whatever. I would say that I don't do 95% of this so I don't see where I can find any hidden money. I'll post my thoughts on the "debt diet" another time.)

But, enough of my sniveling. My son has a rough road ahead of him if he's going to successfully mix the traditions together. He loves his wife and she loves him - so I pray that it all works out.


Pat said...

Wow - this is a dilemma. That's nice of Jenny's parents to help pay for a house, but for what price? What strings are attached? Do they have to pay them back? I understand if her parents want to "guide" them in their selection of houses, per say, but this doesn't give them the permission to tell Shaun and Jenny how to spend their money from there on out. A "gift" is given with love. Not pointing fingers and saying, "Now what can 'HIS' parents pay?" Are they struggling with medical issues and bills? Doesn't sound like it.

As far as the cruise goes, how does Jenny feel about paying for you and Ron? If she's not upset by it, then the parents should BUTT OUT.

Other options: leave the kids home with you to babysit (but can you afford to be off of work to watch them?)

leave the kids home with Jenny's parents to babysit

It will be interesting to see how this whole thing develops.

Donna B said...

Oh boy...I have to agree with Pat...but I know it is so difficult with inter family traditions and differences. Their traditions no doubt make them feel THEY ARE RIGHT...I feel for you my friend.