The costs of being too nice

footprints-in-the-sand

Our Footprints Leave Our Mark On Life

Is being too nice a bad thing? Only you can answer that question but for many people on the outside looking in the picture is crystal clear. Most often it’s quite apparent when you can see others who might be taking advantage of someone’s good nature although it may not be intentional it’s a dependency that happens because it’s allowed.

Today my wife shares a bit about her mother growing up and how she was the go-to mom for all of her friends and for her and her siblings. I also talk about my best friend who is a one in a million guy, unique at best but certainly worth having around as a great mate and how his life is surrounded by giving up his time for his loved one’s.

Mrs. CBB

When I grew up my mother and father were and still are very caring people especially my mother who enjoyed hanging around with us and chilling out which no one seemed too worried about. I’m pretty sure my friends would wonder what was up if they came over and my mother wasn’t around to ask them if they wanted something to drink or eat.

My father a hard worker would always give something to someone every time they helped him out with something because to him that was the proper reciprocation along with a thank-you. My mother on the other hand she is all that my father is and more because she would do just about anything for her kids, their friends and her own friends if they needed her.

She was what our friends would call the “coolest mom” in town. Everyone knew if they needed something they could count on my mother to help them out. Looking back I don’t know how she did and it seemed like a hard role to fill.

My mom would always lend a helping hand even to our friends when they needed something like a ride to school, to work or she would even drive us to the club at night and pick us up so we didn’t have to pay for a cab or potentially risk drinking and driving which would never do, but who thinks they ever will in the first place.

If you ever needed money you could ask her for a few bucks and she wouldn’t hesitate to give it to you and most times not ask for it back if we or our friends didn’t remember to pay her back. The thing about my mother is that she would never ask for money from any of us kids or our friends for everything that she did especially for her time and the gas she used to drive us all over town.

My parents were far from rich and there were times when they had to live pay to pay so the extra money would have really helped but my mother was one of those people who had a hard time saying no to anyone. I’m sure in her own way she felt she was doing what everyone else does for their kids but she was forgetting about one person, herself.

My mother was always tired and eventually her long beautiful hair got cut and she started to age and life started creeping up in front of her. My mother always put people first and herself second and although it seems lovely and genuine we should always take care of ourselves so we can be strong for others.

I often wonder how she ever had the time to work, take care of us kids, our father, clean the house, tend to the yard work and help all the people she did. I can clearly see how strong of a woman she was and still is because my mother is still the same way today although she is now retired along with my father.

Healthy relationships

My parents have been happily married for um…. many, many years and it’s because they worked together and complimented each other, most of all they laughed together, had fun together, cried together and learned to talk about anything together rather than hide from each other, at least that’s what she tells me. That to me is the definition of love in a relationship.

I’m not sure if she is going to give me the relationship 101 talk but I know that when you are kind to others it is a reflection on the type of person you are and were raised to be. Both my parents are like this even though we are all far from perfect, but who is.

In many ways, I’m like this and I also fear that I might upset others if I don’t help them or do my best for them and that’s because I saw how my mother and father were and that’s how they raised me. I was raised to see the good in everyone and recognize that money does not define people, it’s what’s inside the heart that counts.

Almost twenty years later now and I can safely say that many of us might have unintentionally taken advantage of my mother’s generosity even though she would have never said a word to any of us because she was too nice. I wonder how many hours and minutes we took away from her already busy life that she won’t get back because she was too busy carting us from point A to point B.

The funny thing is we didn’t live in a big city and you could easily walk from one end of town to the other in about an hour and the bus system is like any other, running full speed daily. So, why are so many kids so dependent on adults and why are adults giving in to the kids when they ask? Is being too nice the real answer or is it because they don’t want people to think badly of them?

My mother is a lovely woman who no longer drives (she has her license though) has all the time in the world since she has retired early and us kids are no longer living at home she has all her time back and she can now enjoy the pleasures in life.

My parents go for bike rides every day and sit by the water to enjoy a beverage or a snack that they brought along with them and they talk, they enjoy each other’s company and the world around continue to grow as a couple. I often wonder why we have to wait until we are retired to have this luxury in life and why it’s so hard for many people to say no, I’m not available or no I can’t afford to lend you money.

Many a time we talk about how financial education should be taught not only at home but in the school system but i also believe that we should teach our children how to say no and why it’s OK if you can’t please everyone because in reality it can run you into the ground. Some parents will go as far as to go into debt by racking up credit card debt just to please their kids and family. We see it happen all the time.

Too tired to care

An ex of mine his mother was the credit card queen and everyone knew it.

She had a great job in the financial field for many years although she was a workaholic trying to please everyone so she knew what she was doing with numbers. We would often go out to eat as a family and the only person that paid, was her. She would pull out the credit card and pay for the entire bill often times at over $200 for the dinner. Time and again she was too tired to cook so his parents would say, let’s all go out to eat.

The thing is we were not little kids we were in our 20’s and working full-time but no one stepped up to pay or even leave a tip. I could only imagine now how much it must have cost them in relation to just buying groceries and someone, anyone cooking at home if she didn’t feel up to it. This was how dependent everyone became of her. It was wrong.

I was and still am a frugal girl and even I feel bad that I didn’t step up to leave a tip and looking back I feel just awful about it. I’m like my mother in many ways and often I hurt when those I love are not happy or if I at least don’t do all I can to try and make them smile so they have a better day. My ex’s family and extended family all did the same to her and that credit card just kept on swiping and her generosity became the norm.

She pays. I will admit it didn’t teach her kids a darn thing as our relationship ended because of money. He was a spender and I was a saver and it was difficult for him to see that you have to still pay the credit card bill when it comes in. His mother taught him that he could swipe when he needed and that didn’t lead him down the right path. It’s hard for people to say no just like for my mother.

New Start, New Beginning, New Life, Change, Divorce, Seperation

It’s me Mr.CBB again……

Not only are you losing your own precious time you are spending money that you might not have for others who are able to do things on their own or pay for on their own yet are too lazy to get up and get going. What happens is when we rely on something it’s too hard to give it up.

With the right guidance it can be done and soon enough those that were once so dependent feel powerful in their own way because you gave them the strength to be independent. It’s not wrong to give but it’s also not wrong to say no in order to let someone learn how to do it on their own.

The above situation reminds of me of my best friend a single father who I will say is the “go-to father” who has a young daughter of his own (the picky eater). He does not deny that he spoiled her yet regrets it but I don’t think he knows how to change that without his daughter getting upset with him as she is still so young. I don’t know how he does it most days. He also has step daughters, one a teen and one in her twenties who have boyfriends who hang out at the house when they want, wash their clothes there when needed etc.

His home is like an open door for drop-ins as is his cell phone that rings at all hours of the day and night or he gets texts while he is trying to get sleep he so desperately needs. He works odd hours of the morning which means he gets up very early while most people are still sleeping and enjoying the peace and warmth in between the sheets.

When he gets home from work it’s pretty much his night-time and for everyone else it’s the afternoon but his kids fail to see that. They are old enough to take the bus to work but they don’t they call him on short notice and he jumps.

He’s a nice guy, he’s better than that though because he’s my best friend and I know he would do anything for anyone like he does for his kids and has a heart of gold. The problem is that he is tired all the time, probably spends a fortune on gas driving the kids and boyfriends back and forth to work. His time is worth its weight in gold but he always puts himself last.

He is in love with a beautiful woman but I sometimes wonder how he will ever find time for her since he’s always tired and his kids take up his spare time, although they are both head over heels for each other. His daughter loves her to bits and tells her often which really does put a perspective on his life and she motivates him to make the changes he wants.

He feels he is aging faster than most and in reality with lack of sleep that can happen because when we are physically drained all the time our body doesn’t have the time to rejuvenate which we get through proper sleep habits or at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night.

I’m sure if he read this he would laugh because he doesn’t remember the last time he had that much sleep but I’m sure he would agree that he wants his world to change so that he can be the man he’s always wanted to be for himself, his daughter and his girlfriend. His youngest daughter is very active as he had her later in life and he struggles at times to keep up with her but loves her like no other. She’s his angel.

He often says he will die from a heart attack and although it chills me to hear that it’s clear he needs to make changes in his life starting with his career which he despises and his home life. His stress is apparent on his face, in his eyes, his actions and his body is telling him to slow down. He tells me that everyone’s situation is different and I agree but I also think that he needs to step up and take control of his life before it takes its toll on his health.

We often say what we feel and potentially forecast for the future but we can change the direction of our life. Like my wife’s mother he struggles to say no to anyone, lives pay to pay or ahead a pay when he can (I’m teaching him how to budget or at least that’s my goal he just doesn’t know it yet), has little debt, two mortgages and never asks for anything in return. Building the confidence to tell someone exactly how you feel and to stick to your guns and not worry if they are upset because you can’t be at their beck and call should be of great importance.

He is not only going to teach the kids responsibility to catch the bus so they make it to work on time he will get back his own valuable time that he do desperately needs. He will also save money and wear and tear on his vehicle because he’s not spending most days running around town for them.

Most of all he will teach them that he can’t hold their hand through every step in life and that he has to let them go to become and grow as adults. There comes a time when kids are old enough to tell them that they need to learn what it is like to be an adult because we are doing them no favours by doing it all for them. The hardest part is saying no, I can’t, I’m not able to but its life and we are not super hero’s we are human.

If they don’t understand today, they will understand when they get older like my wife where you can clearly read above how she can look back and wonder how her mother did what she did. Her mother today still feels worn out and does not look her age because she aged far too fast. The stress of life got to her but now she’s taking the time to live her life the way she wants to.

They say we will do anything for our kids and it’s true but we also have to remember that doing everything doesn’t mean we have to forgo teaching them the responsibilities of life, being an adult and how it takes time to make money and it doesn’t grow on trees. It also doesn’t mean that we have to put our own happiness last.

Although he says he’s just a nice guy and that’s why he always does what they want he needs to start thinking about himself as well as his young daughter who desperately needs to change her controlling ways over him when she doesn’t get what she wants. There is a cost to being too nice and often it is to our own well-being in mind, body and spirit and often times our bank account.

Is it possible to be too nice?

What would you say to my best friend about his situation and how he could go about handling it?

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Mr. CBB
I’m from the UK and now a recent permanent resident in Canada. I bought my first house at the age of 21 after University then my second at the age of 24. I’ve always been fascinated with personal finance, savings, learning to make money and watch it grow while combating debts along the way. Canadian Budget Binder is a place where I get to share my experiences with personal finance and learn about yours along the way. I hope you stick around and check me out on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest where I am active on all social media sites. Cheers, Mr.CBB
Mr. CBB
Mr. CBB

Comments

  1. Good read. In some aspects I see myself. I still have family in Jamaica and most times when they call for financial assistance big or small I feel compelled to help. Some friends and family tells me I’m too nice and I should learn to say no. Since I’m paycheck to paycheck it can cause chaos in my budget but it’s hard to say no to loved ones at times no matter what they ask for.

  2. Mary F Campbell says:

    Thank you for sharing… both Mr and Mrs CBB.

    I am as guilty as anyone of taking advantage of my parents generosity but as their first born, I wanted to forge my own path and was “fiercely independent” according to my very first serious boyfriend. Living in far off locations from my family, as a teenage figure skater in training, I learned to fend for myself and perhaps became a little too much to the other end of the scale. I learned to stand alone and be absolutely okay with that. Even today I don’t let others into my emotional space easily or comfortably. Most people see “the shell” I present but have really no idea who I am behind that wall…including immediate family.

    Today, September 11th, one of the most horrible of days for my sister who used to live in NY city… I have to tell her on FB that my heart breaks for her every year on this date and that I love her. Ten years my junior, she was only five when I first left to skate in another city. We didn’t really grow up together. I am not sure that she knows me well enough to know how very scared I was for her until I received her email that she was alive and ok!

    There is such a thing as “too nice” BUT just as damaging is to not teach friends and family that you are there for them under all conditions, you do want to help and that if they NEED you…you will be there, no questions asked. Perhaps the goal I would aspire to is balance. :-D

  3. Interesting post Mr CBB.

    Mrs CBB remarks in her post that she wonders “how many hours and minutes we took away from her already busy life that she won’t get back because she was too busy carting us from point A to point B,” and I do get her point, but I’m wondering if her mom felt that those hours and minutes were lost. Chances are that her mom considered that time well invested and that she was pleased and proud to be able to help her children and her friends in that way. Likewise with your single friend and the time and effort he expends on behalf of his daughter and her friends.

    Ultimately, people do what works for them even though it may not make sense to people viewing it from the outside. Mrs. CBB’s mom and your single friend would not invest the time, effort, and expense in doing those things if they didn’t receive some sort of reward in return. Since I am similar in nature and behaviour I’ll put forward what that reward is for me: I get an emotional lift from helping others even when it requires some sacrifice on my behalf. It makes me happy.

    I’ll bet it made/makes them happy too, and I know that most folks will give an awful lot to continue a behaviour that rewards them with a happy heart.

    It’s good to think about setting healthy limits, and to acknowledge that some choice are costly financially, emotionally, or physically. It’s also important to understand that each person will weigh costs and rewards differently, and to respect their choices.

    • Mary F Campbell says:

      It gives me pleasure too Beth Anne to be of service. I answer to my own conscience as to what is enough and what is too much and even if I need to say no in a given circumstance. What it looks like to others is none of my business, nor theirs for that matter. I applaud you for the courage to walk to the beat of your own drummer! :-)

  4. I enjoyed reading your views on this issue. I think there are a lot of people who justify being “takers” because they only see what someone appears to have, not what they had to sacrifice to achieve it, because of course, they are conspicuously absent during someone else’s struggles. My worst experiences are always with people who are indulged (usually by parents) far into adulthood; they lack empathy & can’t seem to understand why the world will not indulge them as well.

  5. Every day I see parents give their kids everything they want, even if they cannot afford it, but feel they cannot let their children down by saying “no”. It makes me sad. They want so badly to be good parents but they actually hurting their kids more than helping them. Helping them understand how to use their money, to differentiate between a “want” and a “need” and to set goals, budget and save/invest – those are the kinds of things kids need to learn, even if it makes telling your kids “no”.

  6. Oh yes, Mr and Mrs CBB, I do think there’s such a thing as being too nice. I have seen far too many instances where people have not put their feet down, said no, and let the other person deal with their own mistakes. While I do think parents should be supportive, being a doormat is an entirely different thing. I have seen children grow into adults who feel they are entitled to all of their wishes. They are demanding and manipulative and hard to get along with. They are at a disadvantage in the world, in my opinion.

    I am not a parent, but I have worked with children for 15 years, and I think consistency is the key. Having firm guidelines and reinforcing them works. Children like to know their limits and learn well within those limits. Intermittent reinforcement, saying yes sometimes when they are throwing a fit (no matter if two or twenty years old) is highly reinforcing and may actually increase rather than extinguish the behavior.

    Oh, it sounds like your friend and mother are such wonderful people, and I hope they are able to enjoy the rest of their lives as stress-free as possible. I love to hear your mom is riding her bike and enjoying long chats!

  7. I believe there is a big difference between being nice and being take advantage of. You can be nice but not let people walk over you, but a lot of the time some people are both, and that’s very dangerous. You have to take care of yourself first, and it’s not selfish one bit to do so. I’ve witnessed with my own eyes some people close to me who were taken advantage of. In truth they really do have no one to blame but themselves, but it still sucks to see because they ARE so nice.

  8. Great Jollyhoombah (@Hoombah) says:

    CBB! I know many who are simply too nice. I used to be one of them. He needs several nights away with his wife where they ought to make a plan for his health and his behavior at home. If that does not work, he should seek professional help. I see the ravages of giving more than one has in loved one and friends alike. A lifetime is a terrible thing to waste. His good nature will disappear one day into a nasty bitterness under this stress. Hope he figures it out.

  9. Like Tanya, I think there’s a difference between being nice and letting yourself be taken advantage of. Sadly, the easiest time to establish boundaries is at the beginning of a relationship, which makes it tough to change the path your friend has set with his daughter even though he feels it is wearing on him. Any parents have suggestions?

  10. Christine Weadick says:

    An excellent article, both of you…. My parents didn’t do a lot of that for me as a kid, Mom didn’t drive but she did work full time. Dad just wanted to relax after work. I drove my kids around back then, usually with a friend or two along for the ride. It was a good chance to get to know their friends, know where they were going and to talk without pressure. I helped in the library in the school, on trips and in the class room with them. Again it was a chance to get to know their friends and teachers. It also got me to places I might not have gone on my own, and to see things I wouldn’t otherwise.
    In those travels I meet kids that were spoiled by their parents buying them things they didn’t need. My kids got what they needed, wants not so much…. I think I’ve told the story here before but I used to make a lot f my kids clothes when they were young. My daughter had a ‘friend’ that actually told her that it was too bad we were so poor that I had to make their clothes….. It infuriated her!!!!! My daughter had problems saying no to others, while at home I was the one to say no if needed for her….
    Some people do have problems saying no, if you are being taken advantage of then you need to learn how to say it no matter how uncomfortable you are. Some don’t say no but feel they are getting something out of doing something for another person……they have reasons that are valid to them. It boils down to whether you feel taken advantage of… if you do then you need to figure out a better way to do things……

  11. kimateyesonthedollar says:

    That’s a tough one. I do wonder sometimes if rude people get further in life. Only worrying about yourself might make less work and more money, but I think there might be something missing. Being nice would be better in my opinion unless it literally kills you to do it. Putting off your own well being is never a good idea and letting your kids take advantage is not good for anyone.

  12. What a lovely mother you have Mrs CBB! I think you can never be too nice but you can be nice with people who don’t deserve it and it won’t serve you well as they will take advantage of you. I try to be nice with people around me but am pretty resentful when they take advantage as I feel cheated. When you are nice to nice people there is nothing better.

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