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Monday, September 16, 2013

Teaching Your Children Enough

Tonight before bed, my son gave me a hug and said "Thanks, Mom.  That was a great weekend.  You're the best."

I almost cried.

It was his birthday on Sunday.  We, at the last minute, invited 5 of his best buddies to go play laser tag and spend the night.  We watched a movie on the side of the house. 


All he wanted for his birthday was a $24 video game.  My husband got him a sleeping bag for when they go camping in the winter.

Again, simple.

We had pizza.  He asked that I make my chocolate cake with fudge icing.

We spent Sunday with some friends-- they had us over for a cookout.

It was a great weekend.

So what makes this inspiring for a blog?

Because it would have been extremely easy to have overindulged him.  To do some over the top party.  To buy him something extravagant that he didn't even want to show him that we loved him.

But he didn't need it.  He hung out with us.  With his friends.  Those intangible things you can't put a price on.  He even let his sister have 2 friends (fellow little sisters of his friends) hang out.


So the inspiring part has been that he didn't ask for more.

Because he could have.

Because we are in a position to do it.

Which puts me in a weird position. 

When I grew up "We can't afford it" wasn't exactly a foreign phrase.  We weren't poor and my parents provided me with a lot of opportunity, but we were not wealthy.   Times could be tight.   I did not wear designer clothes.  I was very aware that I wasn't going to get everything I wanted whenever I wanted.

For my children, however, the excuses are fewer.  What do you say when you can afford it?  How much is enough?

We live in a world where people's homes are overflowing with their stuff.  How do you teach children that stuff doesn't matter?  How do you teach them to care for the stuff they have without making it about the stuff?

Fine line. 

It's a good challenge to have.  I know this.  But it's still difficult.  I also know it could all change tomorrow- then what?

I went to college with more than a few people who never saw a paycheck until their 20s.  This fascinated me. I had a checking account at 16.  They took trips.  Had cars.  And had no idea where money came from.

They weren't bad people-- it was just different. 

There was a fine line between entitled and confident.

I want my children to be confident and have high expectations. I do not want them to be spoiled or entitled.

But this is a new world for me.  I want to give them everything they could ever need.  I also want them to appreciate it without overvaluing it.

This weekend was a perfect example.  We set a limit not on the number of friends, but on the quality of friends.  He came up with 5.  Five boys that I know and like.  He did that himself.

No fancy cake- he liked mine best.

On his actual birthday, he was fine spending it with our friends- he genuinely likes them.

And he wanted lasagna for dinner.  Not dinner out.  My lasagna.



And when it was over, he was grateful.

Best weekend ever.

He used to go to a private preschool.  The parties were over the top.  Ponies, magicians, face painters- crazy.  I felt so uncomfortable.  People trying to out do each other.  I even had someone call a party we had-- with 10 kids-- "retro." I had a few condescending comments about what I could "afford." 

It's not about what I can afford- it's about what is appropriate.  It's about the expectations that I'm setting with my children.

It's about enough.

Not too much.  Not too little.  Enough.

My son is still smiling from his party.

It was enough.


alexandra said...

This is a post that should go viral. Wonderful thoughts, thank you!

Mama Bean said...

Thank you very much!