Do your kids ever suffer from what I call “The Give Me Syndrome”? It’s not a real syndrome, it’s made up. The Give Me Syndrome is an excessive amount of requests for material items. Recently, the requests in my home have been things like a cell phone from my ten-year old, an overnight birthday party in a hotel suite (with an indoor pool) from my twelve-year, and the latest Jordan basketball shoes. These are normal run of the mill requests for some families but we like to pace ourselves. The requests come in waves, meaning things are quiet for a while, then three or four requests come all at once.
Overall, my kids (ages 15, 12, and 10) are well-rounded, great students, athletes and good-natured. I know I’ve said that before on this blog, but it’s important to give them credit for things they do well. Aside from that, they are normal kids who want things. We all want things. Who doesn’t?
Honestly, I am guilty of indulging my kids from time to time by granting many of their requests. Yep, I admit it. I usually reserve the bigger gifts for their birthday or Christmas. My secret philosophy has been that it’s okay to give our kids what we didn’t have. I say secret because that’s not something they need to know, it could cause some problems. We work hard and why not allow our children to reap some of the benefits. Those benefits include a number of things aside from material items like a nice home, travel, and piano lessons. They are great students, and good kids so why not reward them.
As the kids got older, I realized it was time to re-evaluate that philosophy especially when the requests began to change. They never stop. It’s just the way of the world, acquire one thing and then its on to the next thing. Get the new iPhone 5 and we are already anxiously awaiting the new iPhone 6 before it comes out.
Kids are influenced by their peers, television and various forms of technology/social media. There are a number of shows on television that sensationalize materialism. Remember the show about the sweet 16 birthday parties for celebrity kids? Is it still on television? I caught a few glimpses of the parties. The parties were over the top, and the parents were clearly trying to out do one another. Well, the reality is, the average person is not going to buy their 16-year-old a new Mercedes-Benz. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things too but I want my kids to be grounded in good solid values. We all have to make our own way in this life, so my job is to help prepare them.
Money cannot buy joy, peace, confidence, and motivation. In other words, the extrinsic does not always satisfy the intrinsic needs. Sometimes I have to reign my kids in to make sure they know the difference between wants and needs.
We all know that consistency and follow through are important when raising kids. My husband reminds me of this often. Kids must be held accountable too. There are times when we let things slide here and there but we do our best to stay on track and I think it’s working.
When we are out shopping and my daughter says, “mom I really don’t need that”. It makes me smile.
These are a few of the values that guide our parenting:
Work for what you want. As kids get older, they need to realize that people are not going to just give you things upon request. Chores are a great way to earn an allowance. If old enough, a part-time job is a great way to earn extra money too. Earning something fosters such a great sense of accomplishment and pride. If there is something they want, we can negotiate by adding extra chores. However, we do not have to “pay them” for everything they do around “our house”. My husband calls it the family plan. There are some things that are expected just because we live in a cooperative household.
Comparing doesn’t work. We really don’t want to hear that Lindsey has one or how they do things over at her house. We are not trying to keep up with the Smith family. We are paving our own way, and we live within OUR means. We actually live by a budget.
Understand that all that glitters is not gold. Their friends may have the latest and the greatest, but appearances may not always be an accurate reflection of what is really going on. Again, we live within our means. Some people just enjoy the finer things in life at any cost (even when it is not in their budget), and that is great if it works for them.
See For Yourself. Every now and then my kids complain. So I do what I call a “drive by” or a “reality check”. We just ride around town to various neighborhoods to show them how different people live. Now this is just to give a visual representation of the diversity in living environments. We make certain assumptions based on appearances but I realize that we all have a story. The struggle is real for many people, and I don’t want them to lose sight of that.
Realize that you are blessed. We all have different financial resources. At their age, my kids have already traveled extensively and had amazing experiences in their short lives. Besides that, all of their basic needs are being met (in abundance) with both parents in the home.
Giving is rewarding. We all like to receive gifts now and then but giving is just as important. We need to step outside of ourselves and think about ways that we can make a difference in the world. We can give of our talent, time and resources (money). When we give, the reward we receive is far greater than that new pair of Jordans. It changes you on the inside when you take part in something that is life changing for others.
How do you deal with the “Give Me Syndrome” in your house? Do you ever have this issue?
Peace and Blessings,