We're scared of giving kids what they want. We think they need to learn the lesson, "you can't always get what you want." I'm not sure why we think they won't learn this on their own. Kids are smart. In our culture of advertising and stuff on top of stuff on top of more stuff, I'm pretty sure they're very aware that they can't always get what they want. I know my daughter is. She feels it keenly.
And it's not always about money. Sometimes kids want the pink plate. Sometimes they want to be barefoot in the park (and this is probably good for them! Check this out about "grounding" or earthing"). Sometimes they want to wear the same Lightning McQueen shirt for weeks on end. And why would someone have to say no to any of those things? Why are we scared to give our kids what they want?
We fear that if we give them too much or say yes too many times to too many requests, then we're creating... spoiled brats or entitled, self-centered, greedy monsters. But consider this: why would our children not learn about generosity from us giving freely to them? And also, how will you ever know if you don't try?
I'm not talking about giving stuff to kids as rewards or as a way to make up for not being able to spend time with them here. I'm talking about genuinely taking an interest in your child's desires. Maybe it is a new toy - a toy that you feel you don't need in your already toy-ladened house. But maybe your child just needs to hear you say, "wow, that is an awesome toy!" Or maybe they need a plan in place to save up for it. Maybe you can surprise them with it.
Gerry loves to watch You-tube videos on our phones. Some of his favorites are the toy-review videos - especially of cars and trucks. He has seen a LOT of cool toys on those videos. And yes, he says he wants them. (Actually tonight what he said was that he wanted to "borrow it for Christmas" Love that boy!) Do I need to bluntly tell him that he can't have that right now? Nope. I can talk with him about how cool they are and that he wants them and really that's about the extent of it.
Marisol has had an allowance since she was a little over 4 years old. We have had different systems that have changed over time for her saving up for toys, for us paying for part or not, and she loves to add things to our Amazon wish list. Sometimes it's tiring for me. I mean it wears on me always hearing about all the stuff she wants. But you know what? I remember feeling that way - at a much older age too. I told her about how when I was a teen (or pre-teen, not exactly sure how old I was) I felt like there were SOOO many amazing CDs out there that I wanted. I actually felt overwhelmed because there was no way I could ever get them all - and this thought was a little depressing (don't judge, I also thought about world hunger for hours on end while I picked rocks on our family golf course... the mind of a teen is very agile - or perhaps I was already a sperm whale even back then).
When I connect with remembering that feeling, I can empathize with my daughter and move from a place of love. We plan and shop around. She changes her mind 20 times a day about what she wants to get next. She spends her whole week's allowance on the extras on "free" iPhone apps. And you know what, she is learning so much. She already talks about the value of toys and what *she* thinks they should cost. She already shows remarkable generosity at times with her friends - both in lending her things and in buying them gifts. And at Disney World last month we had no issues at all with all of the "stuff" and gift shops - she got one tiny stuffed animal from a game and a T-shirt.
But if she had wanted more that would have been fine too! The point is to accept your kids where they are and in time they will amaze you. Right now, I'm realizing that I want to be more generous with her so she feels that to her core. The allowance has been a wonderful tool that we continue to use - but I also want to surprise here with cool things - just because I love her. So we did this month - with a baby bike seat for her dolls on her bike! How cool is that? I was so excited to get it and give it to her! My question to myself right now is, "how generous can I be?"
You know what I want? I want the world to be a better place for my kids. I want World Peace. I want an amazing community to raise my children in. I want to feel loved and cherished and supported. If someone had spent the better part of my childhood telling me I can't always have what I want, guess what? I might think that I can't have those things, that I'm not worthy of them, and that it's not even worth trying for them because they aren't possible.
No thank you. I want my kids to strive for the things they want and to know that I will support them to the best of my abilities as they do so. And if right now that means helping them get the newest Lightning McQueen toy, his blue cup, the coolest American girl accessory, and time with her best girl friend, well that's fine by me. I know that someday they are going to want even bigger and better things. And I can't wait to see what they are.
Do you struggle with getting your kids "stuff"? Is it difficult to find a comfortable place between needs and wants, generosity and practicality? What would if feel like to encourage your kid to go after things they want?
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.