The Foolish Son

Having spent some time in my life expecting others to provide for me whether or not I worked, I realize the sooner you learn to earn your way, the better off you are. Each of us needs to understand the value of rent, car payments, groceries, clothes, etc.

I knew a guy whose folks not only bought his first car, they supplied his insurance too (so he could go to school without transportation worries). He soon lost his license (DUI) and then wrecked his car. He had to miss a term of school because of injuries so he moved back home. During this time, his parents realized their son was too immature to handle life on his own. They told him that he would have to work for a year and save enough money for the first term of college. During this year, he would live rent free and grocery free but he had to save most of his paychecks toward college.

He worked and saved money for six months and then fell off the wagon. He went to a college student vacation place and blew all his savings in two weeks.

Upon returning home, his parents said nothing about his trip. After all, it was his money. However, when fall enrollment time came around, and the young lad sat with his parents in the kitchen to talk about school…and how much money they were planning to give him for tuition, they sternly answered, “Nothing.”

Shocked, he asked, “Why?” They replied, “You’ve broken the agreement and spent most of the money, even though we kept our part by giving you free rent and food. If you wish to attend a University or State college, you will have to begin saving your money. If, instead, you will be satisfied with attending the community college, we will continue providing free rent and groceries. But…you will have to keep your job.

He was stunned, hurt and angry. He stormed out of the kitchen and did not return for three days. While gone, he stayed with an old college roommate, losing his job. Tired of hanging out, doing nothing, he returned home to renegotiate with his parents.

He said he could get a good job with a friend’s father and begin saving money for school again. His father told him that was a good idea but things were different now. Since he had broken his word more than once, walked off his previous job and spent all his money, he would now have to pay $250 each month for rent.

His father continued by telling him he must have his decision in the morning. The next morning the son agreed with very little enthusiasm.

Time passed and the following fall enrollment season, the parents and son met once again for their college education talk. This time his parents had quite a surprise for their son.

“Now that you have lived up to your part of the agreement,” they said, “we have a surprise for you. We are giving your rent money back to you for your expenses at school. And, if all goes well this term, and we see your grades in the acceptable range for your ability, we are prepared to further negotiate for the following term. However, it will be necessary for you to seek part-time employment to pay for any shortfalls.”

And so it went…each term they negotiated a new agreement with a little bonus money at the end of each successful year.

On graduation day, four years later, his parents gave him a check equal to $250 a month times four years. “You have earned it, son,” they told him. “We are proud of you and so thankful for your hard work these four years.”


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