Kids ask for a LOT of “things” don’t they?
Toys, games, movies, candy! It’s at the store, on tv, in Sunday’s paper. THINGS are everywhere aren’t they? And they want a piece of it…that happiness, that joy, that whatever the crap is being promised to them on tv once they have that.one.extra.thing.
Real life is kinda like that too isn’t it? I mean, we think once we make more money, own a bigger home, get a new car, take that trip…that joy is bound to follow. But it doesn’t does it?
We are, more often than not, left with the same void we started with…only a little less money and lot more debt.
But happiness? No. Joy? Nuh-uh.
And the same is true for my children. For every thing they THINK they need…like right now…they don’t. And having it wouldn’t change their level of happiness one iota.
And isn’t that what we as moms REALLY care about? Our children’s happiness? When I had my first daughter, I didn’t pray that I could buy her everything she may ever possibly want. Or fulfill every whim and desire she might have.
No, I prayed that I would be a good mom to her…that I would know how to take care of her, to provide for her, to support her and raise her to be the awesome little person I knew she was going to be 9 months before she was born. At the end of the day, I prayed for her happiness.
So if I want my kids to be happy.
And things don’t equal happiness.
Then that means….it’s OKAY to say no a lot to those requests for things.
Growing up, we didn’t have any money. So somewhere inside of me, I think I knew not to ask for a lot of things. Sure, Christmas and birthdays were fair game but even I knew there were some things you didn’t ask for.
And do you want to know probably my most favorite Christmas ever? The one where my parents gave both me and my sisters a $10 handheld game from Radio Shack and a new pair of slippers. And that’s it.
And I tear up just writing those words because even now I can imagine my parent’s heartbreak at being able to give only that. I know they thought they were letting us down. But they were so wrong.
I loved those puppy slippers so much! (they even had long “hair” that I combed incessantly) And I played that game until it broke I think.
And I was happy.
I was happy not BECAUSE of the gift they gave me but because of the parents who gave it.
And once I had my children I remember talking to my mom about trying to raise kids who aren’t spoiled and who appreciate what they have. And she said this:
“You know Hillary, it was hard for me to raise you with no money. There were so many things I wanted to give you but just couldn’t. And it will be hard for you to raise your girls because you have the money to buy them more things than I could. But you will have to teach them about the value of a dollar and show them that money doesn’t equal happiness. And I think you will have the harder time.”
And she’s right. Because for me, a dollar item from the Target One-Spot won’t break the bank…but it’s not the lesson I want my kids to learn.
Because if I teach them now that buying things will make them happy, that lesson will stick.
So here’s what I do when my girls ask me for “things.”
- Tell them to remember it for Christmas or birthday or Kindergarten graduation…or whatever celebration is coming up. Number of times they have actually remembered this item when said event arrives: ZERO
- Flat out tell my girls “No.” Sometimes they just need to hear that they don’t need that barbie, that shirt, that pack of gum. Period.
- Take a picture of the “thing” with the price and tell my girls they are welcome to save up their money to buy it themselves.
Does doing these things make them stop asking? Nope.
Has it minimized how many times they ask? YES! Drastically.
So I have to think that I’m doing something right…and something is sticking…and it’s something I hope sticks around for a long, long time.
If you have missed any in the series 31 Days & 31 Ways To Be A Better Mom, catch up here:
INTRO TO SERIES:
DAY 1: OUR BEFORE SCHOOL RULE
DAY 2: UNPLUG AND PLUG IN
DAY 3: STEP AWAY FROM YOUR CHILD
DAY 4: EMBRACE YOUR CRAZY
DAY 5: BE A REBEL
DAY 6: DO AS I SAY
DAY 7: FIND YOUR VILLAGE
DAY 8: DIVIDE & CONQUER
DAY 9: ONE SMART COOKIE
DAY 11: STOP COMPARING YOUR CHILD
DAY 12: TAKE CARE OF #1
DAY 13: DATE YOUR CHILD
DAY 17: PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES
DAY 18: QUIT BEATING YOURSELF UP
DAY 22: FAMILY DINNER SHMINNER
DAY 23: REBELLION IS A CRAZY THING
DAY 24: TELL THEM IT WILL GET BETTER
DAY 26: IT’S OKAY TO WISH TODAY WAS OVER
DAY 27: BE A GOOD DAUGHTER
DAY 28: QUIT TRYING TO BE THAT OTHER MOM
DAY 29: YOU CAN’T BUY THEIR HAPPINESS
DAY 30: TELL YOUR KIDS YOU ARE A FAILURE
DAY 31: LEARNING TO LET GO