My house is a mess and I’m in the mood to blog. 36 hours ago the house was ready for company and I had no desire to write. Go figure. (Yes, I am a Fly Lady subscriber so my house should always be ready for company, but sometimes real life comes before shining my sink. I built a tent with my kids this morning and had coffee with a friend. :))
I really want my kids to be grateful. But this desire is sometimes counteracted by my desire to give them everything. I’m not sure there’s a parent out there who doesn’t want to give their child an even better life than they had. Even those of us who were blessed enough to have great childhoods, strive to give our children even more. I met a Mom once who bragged about how she was only going to have one child so she could provide well for him. I almost felt hurt, wondering what she thought about me, a stay at home Mom and pastor’s wife, with 3 kids. I’m sure she was thinking I’d never be able to provide the way she could. (Well, that’s what my insecurity told me anyway.) Living in a very wealthy area has challenged me even more in this matter. I see and hear of kids who are able to play any sport they want, get any gift they want and play any instrument they want. They want it and their parents make it happen. I was shocked to hear what kind of electronics some of my boys’ friends have (in kindergarten and 2nd grade). I get insecure when they have friends over, wondering what they’re thinking about our small house and our boys’ tiny room which they share. I wonder if they go home and tell their parents how few toys my kids have. I worry as I prepare for Avary’s birthday party because of the lavish parties people in this area throw for their children. Will it be fancy enough? Will it seem hokey in comparison? I am revealing a lot about my insecurity, aren’t I? And maybe that’s what all this is really about.
What I’m praying about now is that I will realize that I don’t want to give my kids everything. What I really want are children who understand the value of hard work and feel blessed and grateful for each thing they have. And it isn’t even so much about the stuff, but about the instant gratification and the importance being placed on kids having so many material things at such a young age, that unsettles me. If my kids have the latest technology now, when they are so little, what is there to look forward to? If I gave Grant a phone at age 8, what in the world is going to “satisfy” him at age 13? They will always whine for new things and once they have them, they will quickly get bored and be on to the next big thing. I think about what that teaches them, character wise, and it’s not worth feeding my insecurity. It isn’t worth making me feel better as a Mom, to give them all their little hearts desire. I don’t want to give them everything! (I am fairly sure my husband is cheering right now, as he is reading this! Hi Stan. :))
Are my kids always grateful? No. Are they a bit spoiled? Yes. Do I give them more than they need? Absolutely. Thankfully I have a husband who is more grounded in this subject, and reminds me of what our values are and what we want to pass on to them. He’s right more than I tell him. What have these values guided us to do? Well, our kids can each choose 1 extra curricular activity once they are school age–ONE. At Christmastime, each of our kids get 3 gifts from us. (That’s the same number Jesus got. If it’s good enough for him, well….) They do each get a gift from Santa as well, and that doesn’t take into account all the gifts from other family members. Trust me, they still got WAAAAY more than they needed. My kids do not get a toy or candy each time we go to Target. This one is hard for me. I would love to let them choose a small thing each time we go to the store but thankfully, our budget doesn’t allow for that. We give the kids an allowance every two weeks which they divide into giving, saving and spending envelopes. If they want something at the store, they have to use their own money. (Since they don’t get much, they usually have to save and wait.) I’ve been so proud of how well the kids have done with this system. Ashton always puts the most in savings, telling us that he wants lots of money when he goes to college. 🙂
I’ll be the first to say this isn’t easy. I want to make my kids happy ALL the time. But that’s not realistic and it’s definitely not healthy. Praying that God will remind me each day to give my kids the things that truly matter–love and time.