This morning as I was braiding my daughters hair for school, I was listening to the Hallerin Hilton Hill show on 100.3 radio out of Knoxville, TN. I like his show because he seems like a really nice person and he always has a few encouraging words to uplift your spirit each morning. I wonder if he was a life coach before a radio talk show host??
Anyway, I didn’t get to hear the entire show, but Hallerin was talking about how our children have too much and how children today for the most part don’t have to work for anything. He was also talking about how parents everywhere want their children to “have it better” than they had it.
What does it mean for our children to have it better than we had it? Many parents equate better with more possessions. But are children with every new fad, every trendy toy, and the latest in fashions really better off? I believe children who are given everything they fancy end up not appreciating any of it.
When I was a child, my folks didn’t have a lot of money. They sacrificed nice things so that my brother and I could go to a private school and get a good education. I remember in elementary school, many of the girls would bring pretty pencils and erasers. I thought those “pretty pencils” were sooo nice. My mother loves to tell the story of how one day I came home from school and said, “Mom, Stephanie must have a lot of money because she has pretty pencils and she uses them.” For Christmas my mother had filled my stocking with several pretty pencils. I still have them in my box of memories unused because I was so afraid that if I used them up I would never get any more.
Now I believe today if you are going to have something it should be enjoyed and used. BUT, my point is, children today have so much stuff that so what if a toy gets broken, they’ll just get another one. Or, so what if their clothes are being trampled on the bedroom floor – they have ten other outfits.
In our house, fighting materialism is a constant battle. Well meaning family members use every opportunity to give gifts – lots of gifts – and nice gifts. The kind of gifts you feel guilty throwing out. My husband and I purchase gifts for birthdays and for Christmas. That’s it. We get books at the used book store. We don’t buy toys for no reason. We don’t even go to the toy section – problem solved.
We also try to purchase gifts that are needed or will really be enjoyed. This year for Christmas our children will be getting either camping gear for our family campouts or clothes. There are times when we will give a big box of a favorite food – James got a huge #10 can of Nacho Cheese sauce one year – you should have see his eyes pop out of his head! And for the older grown kids I will be making gifts.
We also insist that the children work. If they want spending money for a school field trip they are required to work a number of hours either in the yard or doing extra chores inside the house for the money. (And they don’t get paid $5.00 and hour either! $1.00 an hour tops!) If something gets broken and they want it replaced – they work. If they want to watch a movie on Sunday evening, they spend Sunday working. If they want to go to a birthday party and bring a gift, they work to earn the money and then go to the store to pick out a gift they can afford.
Are we cruel? I don’t think so. My children are learning how hard a dollar is to come by. This life is not easy. Most of us have to work really hard to have anything – a nice house is not cheap and neither is a car. Clothes are not cheap either. Food – you know exactly what I am talking about! Have you ever looked at an item and said … “I will have to work 5 or 25 hours to pay for this item.” UGH. Most of the time it hardly seems worth the effort!
Toys for little kids are expensive, but toys for grown up kids are even more expensive. Do you really want your children to think that when they grow up and get a job that everything will just come to them? Rarely does this life happen that way.
Teach your children the value of money AND the value of work. Working hard is a worthy value to instill in them. They may groan and complain or even throw themselves on the floor and scream, but really, no boss in the world would put up with that kind of nonsense on the job, so why would you?
Look around your house. How many toys, clothes, video games, movies, computer games, shoes, and other stuff is crammed into every available space? Perhaps in 2006 your motto should be “Less is Best.”
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