Within the novel, The Glass Castle, the author Jeannette Walls shares a memoir about her life growing up. Throughout the realm of her story, it has been found that she had very difficult moments that can be attributed to factors such as her parents, the different people she surrounded herself with and the overall environment that she was placed in (Walls, 2005). One of the most significant aspects is the fact that Walls greatly appreciated the small factors in life once she was able to obtain them as an adult simply because she did not have much growing up as a child. Her parents were not able to provide her with the privileges that most children have as they are raised in the United States. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the concepts related to parents and their children’s level of appreciation. Furthermore, there will be an assessment to determine if children appreciate certain factors of life more if their parents provide payment or if they pay themselves.
Parents and Appreciation Level of Children
In today’s society, there is an advancement of multiple innovations that many children have a strong affinity for. Within the middle class, upper middle class and high society environments, many children can be found with expensive gadgets, clothes, cars, etc. because their parents have granted them a life in which they are able to afford those things. Many of those children accept those factors without much appreciation and there are other children who are extremely humble and thankful for everything that they have within their lives. Within the Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls was not fortunate enough to have parents that could buy her everything that she truly desired. In fact, Jeannette’s family starts off by living in a shack in which there is no indoor plumbing or any type of central heating.
She had a strong desire for small things like warm water, in which many children have taken for granted. One major example to take into consideration is the fact that Jeannette’s parents did not have enough money to buy substantial Christmas presents for her and her siblings. Instead, her father took the children outside and asked them to pick their favorite star and that was his gift to them. Walls states the following: “We laughed about all the kids who believed in the Santa myth and got nothing for Christmas but a bunch of cheap plastic toys.” Years from now, when all the junk they got is broken and long forgotten,” Dad said, “you’ll still have your stars” (Walls, 2005). Based on this quote, Walls’ father tried to instill in his children that material gifts will not last forever. Instead, the memories of the stars will.
As a whole, it is my personal belief that parents should give children what they can afford. As children grow up, they should be able to learn about the importance of working hard and obtaining money, but I also believe that children will be able to appreciate life in the grander scheme of things if they are able to pave their own pathways and pay for certain factors themselves. While it is unfortunate that there are many families who cannot afford their next meals, it is also unfortunate that there are children who are not provided with different things such as adequate school supplies or healthy food (Borg, 2014). I do not believe that parents should withhold necessities just so that they can teach their children a lesson (Krishnan, 2014). As seen within the Glass Castle, Walls’ family simply could not afford many things, but as time progressed, this allowed the author’s level of appreciation to grow that much more, especially when she starting paying for things herself.
With regard to college, Walls had a strong desire to gain a beneficial education for herself which is why she worked diligently in order to afford her classes. Since she was paying for everything herself, she told herself that she would not miss anything. In this example, I believe that children can be more appreciative if they are paying for things themselves because they are able to see just how difficult it is for money to get by (Dunrud, 2014). As she was growing up, the following was stated: “You didn’t need a college degree to become one of the people who knew what was really going on. If you paid attention, you could pick things up on your own” (Walls, 2005). Most people in Walls’ environment did not even believe in the concept of obtaining a college education, but she motivated herself and pushed through some of the most difficult times in her life.
Personally, I believe that I would appreciate certain factors such as college if I were to pay for it myself. Furthermore, if I had large expenses, I believe that I would treat the privileges differently from my friends because I have a strong level of appreciation and I am mindful of the difficulties that exist within life. According to Walls, she states the following: “I wanted to let the world know that no one had a perfect life, that even people who seemed to have it all had their secrets” (Walls, 2005). Based on this quote, there is an understanding that even those people who seem to have it all have many hardships as well. Although Walls’ parents struggled to give her many necessities growing up, there were still people who had many more things and they had their own demons to face. Regardless of the fact that Walls did not have much growing up, she was taught a very valuable lesson by her father: “Life’s too short to worry about what other people think… Anyway, they should accept us for who we are” (Walls, 2005). Although there are people who treat the idea of privilege in different ways, the level of appreciation will always vary depending on the upbringing of the child. Moreover, the ideas of respect and acceptance are known to be more important than material things.
Overall, Jeannette Walls has been able to overcome her obstacles even though she faced many trials and tribulations growing up. Personally, I strongly believe that children will be able to appreciate certain parameters even more if they are the individuals who are providing payment. However, while this is the case, I do not believe that children should suffer simply because of limitation regarding monetary factors. As seen within the Glass Castle, there should be a stronger emphasis placed on dignity and respect as opposed to material factors.
- Borg, K. (2014). Spare the rod, spoil the child? The Malta Human Rights Library, 26(4), 23-30.
- Dunrud, T. (2014). Children and money: Teaching children money habits for life. University of Minnesota, 12(4), 1-10.
- Krishnan, A. (2014). No one says no to money. International Journal for Equity in Health, 67(5), 3-6.
- Walls, Jeannette. (2005). The glass castle. Scribner Publishers: New York.