Overfed, and under nourished is a phrase that I’ve heard used to describe the present generation.
This phrase could be used to describe not just the diet that we feed ourselves and our children but also the materialism that we consume.
As parents we want what is “best” for our kids.
It is easy to fall into the trap of comparison. I want my children to have lots of fun and great experiences. I want them to “have it all.”
I am beginning to appreciate more and more the rather simple life that we live.
In the summer we have a tradition of taking a “tour of libraries”. Basically every week or so we visit a different library in our county. We often pack a picnic and explore a new area of town. It is a highlight for us. We also meet friends at local parks, and swim in the neighborhood pool. My kids know how to make a fun day out of a trip to the grocery store, or a bike ride around the block. Our favorite family vacation is camping because it centers around nature and living a simple life.
In Dr. James Dobson’s book, “Dare to Discipline” he makes some strong statements warning parents not to:
” Saturate the child with materialism”.
Allow me to quote several good thoughts that he offers on the subject: “It has been said that prosperity offers a greater test of character than does adversity, and I’m inclined to agree.” He goes on to explain what he labels the “saturation principle”. He tells the story of over eating at Thanksgiving and concludes, “Whereas eating ordinarily offers one of life’s greatest pleasures, it loses its thrill when the appetite for food is satisfied. There is a broader principle to be considered here. Pleasure occurs when a intense need is satisfied. If there is no need, there is no pleasure. A simple glass of water is worth more than gold to a man dying of thirst. The analogy to children should be obvious. If you never allow a child to want something, he never enjoys the pleasure of receiving it. “
I want my children to appreciate things and understand the principle that hard work is traded for every object that we own.
On a recent trip to Costco my son spotted a “SWAT Team” costume. He was amazed by just how awesome it was. It was not just any costume, it came complete with all of the gear. It had handcuffs, a police radio, a baton, a knife, binoculars, a hat, the works! He wanted it badly.
I admit it was a sweet costume. When I watched the delight in my son’s eyes I wanted him to have it. I also wanted him to learn that we get the things that we want because we save for them and work hard. I made him a deal. I bought the costume, but he would have to pay me what he could with the money that he had at home and he would work for the balance. Most jobs in our house are worth 25 cents each or one “Mom point”. We figured out that after he paid me the $7.00 that he had there would be a balance of 62 “Mom points”. Yikes.
We came home and he tried on the suit to be sure that it fit. He was glowing when he came down the stairs. It was hard not to give in to my master negotiator. He wanted to just take the toys off, or wear it for a day, ect. Instead he hung it in the closet that we use for the “Mom store” and he is earning it one job at a time.
He has become super motivated.
Mom’s, let me talk to you for a second here, we need to study our kids and understand what motivates them. We have to know what “currency” makes them willing to help and then use it. There is no reason for us to do all the work or carry the load of running a house alone…it is too heavy for us not to exercise “TEAMWORK”.
My son has begun to grasp just how many jobs it is going to take to check off his whole “SWAT Team Chart.” He has turned into an entrepreneur. He is selling toys on our neighborhood garage sale site. He has set up a business in his room where he offers “spa services”. For 25 cents you can get your back scratched while relaxing to piano music. He is super resourceful. I love knowing that when he finally reaches his goal he will have the self esteem boost of conquering something that was a real challenge.
Let us not rob our kids of the life lessons connected to earning the things that they really want.
Earning things teaches our kids to filter out what they desire so that they bring a whole lot less junk into our homes. It helps them grasp just how hard parents work to earn what our families have so that they treat things with respect and gratitude.