Before you say I am a mean and cruel mother, let me clarify. I do not wish hardships upon my children, nor do I wish problems to befall them. What I want for them, however, is not to come by what they want too easily. My sons are both working now and my daughter is anxious to start working as soon as she is able to. I do not give them money for gasoline, food or activities. I don’t feel guilty about this. I believe this gives them the message that I have faith in their ability to provide for themselves. Should an emergency arise, most definitely I will do what I can to help, but I do not intend to be the first option. All three of my children know this and I have not reaped any repercussions from them for my attitude and actions. I think it is perfectly fine for them to want things that they cannot currently afford. The desire for things and events is an opportunity for my kids to learn how to obtain them.
Being made to forgo one thing in order to save for another teaches self-control and patience.
Self-control, openness, the ability to engage with others, to plan and to persist – these are the attributes that get people in the door and on the job, and lead to productive lives. ~ James Heckman
I truly believe that taking time to evaluate what they REALLY want, making a plan for obtaining it and putting that plan in action will give them skills they will need to survive and excel in life. Were I to just give them what they want and to require no effort on their part to get whatever that might be, the value of it would be greatly diminished BECAUSE they didn’t have to work for it. I have witnessed far too many instances of well-meaning parents that want to provide everything and every opportunity for their children and keep them from wanting for anything. While there may be exceptions, for the most part these children learn that there will always be another ____ (fill in the blank), toy/outfit/car, so valuing and caring for the one they have is unnecessary.
Delaying gratification by making the choice to forego the $5.00 toy because he or she is saving for the $15.00 one is an excellent lesson for a child to learn at an early age. A child is much less likely to leave a bike out in the elements where it may rust or be stolen if that child worked for an entire summer mowing lawns or doing other odd jobs to earn the money to buy that bicycle.
If the child is given bicycle after bicycle because the child is irresponsible and leaves that bicycle unlocked and uncared for, the parent that continues to supply new bicycles is the one to find fault with, not the child. The message this child receives is that the parent has no faith in the child’s ability to properly care for the bicycle or obtain another should it be lost, stolen or wrecked.
My kids know that should one of their prized possessions be broken, lost or stolen, I will empathize with them, but will not replace the item. My response would be, “Oh, no. That’s terrible! What are you going to do about it?” I trust that they are capable of caring for themselves and their possessions and should they, unfortunately, happen to lose or break one of their items will figure out a way to replace it or live without it. I foresee a bright and happy life for each of my children. They may not be wealthy or have the best of everything, but they will all have the satisfaction that comes from earning their way in life.