If you’re like me, we tend to question every decision we make as parents.
“Is this the right thing to do?”
“Was I too harsh?”
“I hope my kid isn’t going to end up on the Dr. Phil show one day.” Okay maybe this one is just me.
IMO, our primary job is to keep our minis alive. Teaching them good values like kindness, empathy and responsibility are the icing between those millions of layers of child rearing. For me, the value part is the most rewarding in this whole process. It feels so good to know that I have the ability (and responsibility) to impart values to my children in order to mold them into high functioning adults in society.
My 7 year old guy and I recently had a day-date to Michaels (my kids revere this store much like they do an amusement park!). He had done some chores so naturally had a few bucks scorching a hole in his pocket. Upon arrival to the crafting superstore, he began the ritual of bargaining. “Mom, if I spend my $5, can you spot me $1 so I can get this [toy]”?
I thought about it. Most times, I’m amenable to the “spotting” tactic. I like that he has earned the money himself doing the corresponding chores, so typically I will toss an extra dollar in the pool. This time, I said no though. He was eyeing up a toy that undoubtedly would get lots of play that afternoon and then end up in the playroom graveyard of organized bins (albeit cute bins, one even with his name on it!).
I mentioned going over to the book section and on the way, my eyes caught up with a lady standing in the aisle. She smiled at me and in a low voice said, “He is so cute. You should be proud.”
I smiled back and humbly said, “I am.”
The whole interaction lasted 30 seconds but got me thinking for much longer. In this world of technology and instant gratification, it’s no wonder kids are drawn to the items they see on TV (yesssss, even if you only give them one hour of screen time a day). The system of earning, saving, anticipation and the delayed gratification after saving to get something, is a lost art. In a small way that day in Michaels, I imparted some wisdom in that 7-year old brain. He got it–even if only for a few minutes.
That guy took out his wallet, counted out the money (always surprised when the sales tax is revealed), slapped it on the counter and beamed as he walked out with a word search booklet and a beach paddle ball set. I explained these are both things that you can get a lot more use out of. He had a dollar and some change left over.
This is why we’re here, parents! This is a prime example of why we’re on this planet. My kids have a chore chart. Some chores are assigned. Some are elective. Everything is given a value and they know how much I’m willing to pay for each. This allows them the freedom and autonomy to organize and plan in order to save for their next purchase.
My son has been carrying that book around for days. He steals any minute he can to search for a word. Mission accomplished. Today anyway.