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Open Letter To Moms

As a writer for CDN and a political pundit on radio and social media, I often get email responses to my public commentary. This open letter to moms not only captured my attention, but touched my heart so deeply that I felt the need to share it with others.

October 2012

Open Letter to Moms

One of the benefits of being a stay-at-home-mom is grocery shopping on weekday mornings when the stores are quiet. A recent trip to the grocery store, however, became a thought provoking experience. I arrived to find the parking lot full and crowded aisles. Then I realized it was the first of the month.

Like a lot of people I shop at a large discount chain to stretch my grocery dollars. I’ve learned that folks on SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, do the same. The first of the month is when funds are deposited into SNAP accounts.

My typical grocery shopping experience takes longer than usual. I probably forgot something on my list. My toddler and infant are now tired and cranky, and I’ve now forgotten where I parked. Trying to find my car, I look around the parking lot. There’s a lot of nice cars. SUV’s. Shiny new models. I remember again that it’s the first of the month. This observation has me intrigued. Wile it’s impossible to know exactly who owns which car, and who is on SNAP, it stands to reason that there are some people driving really nice cars who are on SNAP. And it gets me thinking.

My husband drives a 10 year old car. His paycheck is decent enough that he could treat himself to a much nicer vehicle. In fact, we could live in a much nicer house. Heck, I could drive a bigger car; one that doesn’t require the removal of a double stroller from the trunk to make room on grocery shopping days. But my husband chooses to drive an old car. We live in a modest home. And I drive a small car and squeeze 2 car seats in the back. We do this so we can afford to save money. In our savings account in case of emergency. For retirement. So we can put money into our kids’ savings plans. All of these payments are as important to us as real bills, even though they are optional. We won’t be in default if we don’t put away funds into savings. It won’t affect our credit rating if we don’t save for retirement and instead lived paycheck to paycheck, using every last cent to make payments on new, big, shiny cars.

We could forgo these “optional” payments and opt instead to have nicer things. Noticing the cars in the parking lot of a discount retailer on the first of the month makes me think that a lot of people do just that. Then the “Oh no” moment happens. A job is lost. An accident occurs. An illness takes hold. These families that chose to spend it all now need the government to hold their hand as they leave the big house and get into the big car as they head to the grocery store. Land, home and vehicles are not factored into food stamp eligibility. (www.ssa.gov)

I wish more folks would choose to be responsible and not dependent. The “optional” payments made to emergency savings, retirement and college funds are investments for an independent future. It is a purchase of security. Then if an unexpected situation presents itself, the savings account buys the groceries, not the government. It is richer to live modestly but financially secure than surrounded by luxuries that deplete an entire paycheck each month.

This is the lesson I want my children to learn, live and pass on: to be RESPONSIBLE and not dependent.

I am not trying to ridicule or demonize those who haven’t been taught this lesson. Unfortunately, our government and societal norms have made it all too easy to accept the paycheck to paycheck mentality. But the situation in our country has become dire.

As it stands, our national debt is over 16 trillion dollars. It helps to see what 16 trillion looks like. There’s a LOT of zeros! It’s our CHILDREN that will have to bear the brunt of paying this debt, PLUS the interest! It works out to be about $50,000 per child born this year. How will our children afford to drive ANY type of car with that hanging over them?

Aside from making a choice this November for the candidate that will better address our exploding debt, we need to raise the next generation to be responsible, financially independent adults. The president has a job to do, and as mothers, so do we.

- S Tieszen, American Mom

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Comments (2)

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  1. Jan Brown says:

    Erin & Sally both make some very valid points. This is a HUGE issue that has not clear cut lines, but is overloaded with prespectives. (&emotions) For a brief time I cashiered at a boc store & got quite an eye full. I saw food stamps buy steaks, lobster from gold chained customers while I stood on my feet 8 hrs a day for minium wage & hambuger. Then there were Moms gently guiding a small child to a single ‘treat’ that SNAP covered. Today, we do have those that have need while adjusting to job loss, or having been allowed by the same government to buy homes out of their affordabilty. The ABUSE ALLOWED is wherein the problem is. You have generation after generation of ‘entitlement’ mentality, there are ILLEGAL trespassers being rewarded for breaking the law & a Government that is so desperate to be liked that it’s halloween 365 days a year.
    Yes Erin & Sally, you both have a clear view…This is a reason to look at Congress under a microscope when we vote on Tuesday. As Sean says “You are Great Americans”

  2. Sally says:

    Perhaps it is about the cultures of stereotypes in our society. I teach many children who are poor and the parents can barely pay for a house/car, etc. and need the assistance and when they do have money spend it on designer clothes and shoes (sometimes from the thrift store according to my students) so that their child has some status rather than become bait to the bullies. It may seem ludicrous to some, but I understand why this is happening. My mom is on disabilty and “SNAP” and is one of the people at the store the first of the month. I pay for her phone so she can have a means to keep in touch. I am glad it is available to her because I cannot bear the burden of caring for her. It is not quite so cut and dry. There will always be people who are in need. I have seen both sides…neither one of them is going to fix the problem and neither one of them is 100% responsible for causing the debt. To fix the debt there will have to be handouts whether it is free healthcare or assistance programs, planned partenthood, assistance for employment; otherwise we just cut them loose and watch them resort to crime and sickness? I understand why people do not agree with the government assistance programs, but what is their solution? There is no easy answer. I do agree that parents need to teach their children to be responsible and save money, but some people fall hard on their luck and reaching out a hand is so much easier than kicking them when they are down. I am a working mom and know that things are just rough all over. It sucks from all angles.