Robbing my kids of being raised by blue collar parents

Wil Reynolds
6 min readApr 29, 2019

This morning, my son says, we’re going on vacation soon. I can’t help but frown. I want to say… Son, your whole effing life till this point has been a vacation, you’ve seen more countries by 4 than I did by 30. He’s 4, he doesn’t get it, nor should he, he’s a kid. So I laugh it off but it prompts me to write this post that’s been brewing up inside.

Inheritance, yeah right, these kids aren’t getting squat

Ok, that’s a lie, they are getting 1/2 the value of a home in our neighborhood. That’s it. Everything else goes to charity.

My kids have ridiculous privilege & advantage! Giving them an inheritance ain’t gonna help them be grounded that is for sure. Whenever people ask me about wealth and helping set up future generations of the Reynolds clan, they are always shocked by my position:

1 — My kids ain’t never lifted a finger at Seer Interactive. Just like anyone else on the street who hasn’t helped Seer doesn’t get a dime why should they get a chance to “run things” someday, nope. They can build their own thing, just like I did, my parents gave me values, they didn’t help me with my valuation.

2 — My kids have effed up my career, yeah I said it. Having kids and also trying to be a decent dad (and husband) means I have said no to a lot of client meetings, client work, and conferences. For instance my wife has a conference in Africa for a week, I’m not doing conferences where I could have picked up work, bonded with team members, and saw clients to personally, make sure we’re living up to our end of the bargain. So having kids has been a net negative on growing the value of Seer if you think about it. Worth it, absolutely, but I have to be honest.

3 — I’ve done enough. The connections they’ll have, the network, the privilege they’ll have, the schools, tutors, experiences. I think I’ll have done enough to set them up for success. Heck their “uncle” is Rand Fishkin :) His network is vast. Their “Aunt” De-De (his wife) just won a James Beard award. Yeah these kinds have a stronger network that I ever did.

My Dad Missed Every Christmas, and I don’t love him any less because of it.

My dad pretty much missed every Christmas, and I never thought anything of it. “Son, I can work a double” is what he’d say every time, he could double down that night shift and make that money, which paid for those gifts under the tree. It was my normal, dad wasn’t there on Christmas.

My mom had one of those Christmas Club savings accounts, saving a little each pay period to provide us gifts. They budgeted and as kids we knew that things had to be planned financially. We never wanted for anything, but we saw them sitting around looking at clipboards of our finances (my mom was a legal pad and clipboard kinda gal).

Could you imagine today if I said to my family, Oh I’m going to work on Christmas!!?? I’d be revered as the worst dad ever, no work/life balance, my priorities are off, etc etc.

Even “worse” my dad took vacations with us maybe 2/3rds of the time. He’d say, I work and pay for it, you guys go. To be honest I think he’d rather that. Vacations were every 3 or 4 years, not 2–3 trips per year like my kids get.

For many of us kids of blue collar parents, who worked doubles, night shifts, holidays for that extra scratch, we don’t love them any less because they weren’t there, let me not speak for everyone. I know I didn’t. My parents worked not to be broke.

Being a regular kid with regular parents made me EVERYTHING I am today.

I know I can’t give that to my kids. Sure I can try to expose them to things, but exposure to homelessness for 2 hours at a soup kitchen is nothing when in 2 weeks you are taking a “vacation” to France, Spain, and the UK with your family. It’s just a different life and I feel that being raised that way was INSTRUMENTAL in how I turned out and where I am today and its sad to think, I can’t really give that to my kids. I can give them parts of it, but never the whole. That saddens me.

I dream…would my kids be better people if they were raised the way I was? I can’t help but think, yes they probably would. I also think, man my parents never even thought about this kinda crap.

I listen to the conversations of my friends, we talk about privilege, we talk about cultural capital, me too movements, micro-aggressions, diversity and inclusion, micro-greens, blog post ideas, and I can’t help but think…

Listen to yourself Wil, you talk about things your parents never contemplated…

Here’s an example…I was raised to know that privilege existed, but my parents spent zero time thinking about it, talking about it, they stated facts… Wil, if you and a white kid are both the same level, most times the white kid is going to get picked over you in sports, jobs, life. So work harder, we don’t wanna hear some kid not as good as you got picked for student council, work harder Wil…this is the world. I can’t help but think that maybe what makes me who I am is the fact that I was raised this way my parents gave ZERO FUCKS on talking about what’s fair, they talked about what’s REAL and prepared me for that. End of discussion.

Here’s another example:

Me: Mom / Dad I want a car with tinted windows and a bazooka bass tube.
Parents: you know being a black man you are more likely to get pulled over, you get a car like that you are making it more likely, we aren’t paying for your tickets or bailing you out of jail, get it?
Me: Got it. (only got pulled over once in that car, ha!)

Or another:

Me: Dad I wanna take French.
Dad: French, how the fuck you gonna use that? I don’t work 3 jobs and pay to send you to private school for French. You are taking Spanish.
Me: Ok. End of discussion.
Dad: Yeah, end of discussion.

Today, my son would be like I have “agency” or “choice” back then it was like I pay I make the rules.

Here is what my parents did:

Pay bills & save $$ (for retirement)
Watched a TV show or two
Tried to raise good kids

Is that life better for my kids? I dunno, but its simpler as a parent.

And “raise good kids” wasn’t conversations around, screen time, or exposure to other cultures, some study on whether the kid should study Mandarin or Spanish, or my dad asking himself “am I gone from the kids too much” — it was:

The definition of raising Good Kids was simple too:

Get good grades, no goofing around
Be respectful. You better be calling people Mr. and Mrs.
You finish what you start, you never quit on things you said you would do.

I wonder if this will ever go away?

Even the way we walk about raising our kids… I recently took off most of the day for my son’s birthday, Nora asked “I thought you were taking the whole day”, to which I stopped and thought… am I setting my kids up someday to be sad or think dad doesn’t care if I don’t take a day off for their birthday, its like look kid my world doesn’t revolve around you, no way am I taking off the whole day.

And there it is, once again, the questions that I as a parent w/ unlimited PTO…should I have taken more or less time, am I doing right? I can hear my dad over my shoulder, boy fuck that. Do the best you can and let the chips fall where they may, be honest with yourself, know where your heart is, and let it go. Get back to freaking work you snowflake.

Thanks Mom & Dad. If there’e anyone I should be spoiling, it’s you guys!



Wil Reynolds

Serial Underdog @seerinteractive doing SEO, Marketing, & Stuff, I am whatever you say I am.