Forget respect, I'd take a little responsibility!
When you confront a teen about a mistake, chances are that they'll apologize in a half-hearted way (if they bother at all). Then they want you to clean it up for them. Because, after all, they're still just kids, right? If you try to make them understand the gravity of the mistake, they roll their eyes. Exasperation.
Whatever the reason, this society is disinterested in owning up to mistakes – particularly if it means making things right. It's so much easier to blame others. Obese? Fast food chains are at fault. Upside down on your mortgage? The lenders gave you too much mortgage.
I know that some folks were duped into adjustable-rate mortgages but, by and large, people just wanted things that were previously out of their grasp. And once it was within reach, they didn’t ask questions, didn’t look critically. They just bought into the advertisers’ hype that they “deserved” these things.
Here’s my final bit of exasperation: “Upside-down on your mortgage.” What does that mean exactly? Well, I know what it means. But why does that situation somehow absolve you of any wrongdoing?
Even with the housing price inflation of the past few years, how “upside-down” can you really be? I would be shocked to find anyone who can answer more than $50,000. My guess is, most people are maybe $10,000-$20,000 short.
So why do they get to walk away from that responsibility? Why do they get to think that if they don’t break even, they have no options other than giving up?
They decided to get a house. There’s always risk with that: disability, prolonged illness, unemployment. With most kinds of investment there is risk. And they accepted that when they signed the papers.
Yes, $10,000 is a lot of money. So is $50,000. But you can pay it back. It will take time. And they will be forced to cut back and do without.
But it’s money they owe. Why do they think they're allowed to opt out because things didn't go according to plan?
If you lose money in the stock market, you can’t walk away. When you lose at a casino, you can’t go ask for a do-over. You accepted the chance of losing at the same moment you accepted the chance of winning.
But in this country people think that they are owed a happy outcome. When the unhappy news comes calling, they have plenty of excuses why they can't be bothered.
- They point to children and say, “We have to live somewhere.” Fine, rent. Go for a small apartment.
- They say they have too much “stuff” to fit into an apartment. Uh, isn’t that part of what got us into this problem? Sell whatever you can and put the money toward the debt.
- They say their kids need to go to college. The kids will have to save on their own: holiday money, babysitting and a part-time job during the school year (full-time in the summers). They may still need to take out loans. It happens.
Otherwise our future is not only full of annoying whining, but also pretty bleak.