Everywhere you look today, there seem to be discussions of how we baby boomers so spoiled our children that many of them enter the world unprepared for the challenges of every day life.
Whenever I hear the word” spoiled” in reference to anyone else, I wince and duck for cover; hence, today’s blog excerpt from Bringing Back The Old Hollywood:
“Mom and Dad Are Rich. You’re Broke.”
In a few ways anyway, being raised in Beverly Hills in the 1950s was just like being raised anywhere else.
I rode my bike to school every morning, we hung out and played sports after school, and we became the first generation of kids to watch television on a regular basis. The most popular television shows of the 1950s centered on family life. Problems were always solved by the end of each show and most every character was portrayed as being happy or at least relatively secure.
For me, whatever version of reality that was depicted on shows like The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett, Father Knows Best, and Make Room for Daddy was a welcome glimpse into how I thought other families actually lived and was a lot more real than my own life.
Not much else about my early life had any connection to the real world.
Looking back, spoiled and out of touch with reality are descriptions that don’t even begin to explain how bizarre it was growing up in Beverly Hills. While I was living it, however, I took almost everything for granted and just assumed that I would always live that kind of life.
In a word, I felt entitled without really understanding what the word meant. I just felt that I would always have money and enjoy the same privileged and easy life that my parents enjoyed.
My stepfather and mother had a full-time chef, two live-in housekeepers, and a butler. Didn’t everyone?
I never had to do laundry, clean my room, or do a single household chore. Until I was a teenager, my allowance was whatever I asked for.
Even though “spoiled” is really too polite a word to describe both my lifestyle and my attitude, I was nevertheless convinced that I was untouched by all that extravagance. The only thing I learned about growing up, being responsible, and creating a strong work ethic was…nothing. I was young and my parents were rich, which I foolishly misinterpreted as meaning that I was rich, too.
Oprah Winfrey recently asked actor Will Smith about his kids and their relationship to money. Smith responded with an absolutely classic line that he had said to his son. “Yeah, we had that talk recently. And I said that yes, Mom and Dad are rich….but you’re broke!”
Unfortunately, I was blissfully unaware of that simple fact in my own family and was therefore setting myself up to walk the trapeze of life blindfolded and without the net that I had been so certain would always be there to catch me.