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Kids ask for a LOT of “things,” don’t they? They see these new things everywhere they look & they are enticing. Marketers know how to draw our kids in (and the adults!) It’s why we opt for non-toy gifts for kids and non-toy rewards, and it’s also why we spend our money on experiences over toys.

THINGS are everywhere, aren’t they? It’s no wonder that children want a piece of it… that promise of “happiness,”
joy,” and “whatever else” is being promised to them —just as soon as they purchase the new ‘thing,’ that is…

Real life is kinda like that, too, isn’t it?   There is a misconception that “more,” “bigger,” or “better” can buy us happiness… that when we buy this one thing, joy is bound to follow.   It doesn’t.

Martha Washington put it best when she said, “I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.”

Happiness isn’t in the possessions we have or buy; it is what we make of our circumstances.

Happiness is not determined by what we have.

How wonderful would it be if our children knew this from an early age? What a great lesson to teach our children early on, that buying that ‘amazing, new, gotta-have-it’ thing will not bring happiness but in fact, will leave you feeling the same way that you started- only with a little less money in the bank.

To teach children everything they THINK they need right now… they don’t actually need. That having it wouldn’t change their level of happiness one iota.

Mothers Pray for Their Child’s Happiness…

Isn’t that what we, as moms, REALLY care about?  Our children’s happiness?  

When I first became a mother, I didn’t pray that I could buy my children everything they may ever possibly want.  I didn’t pray that I would be able to fulfill their every whim and desire.  

No. I prayed that I would be a good mother to my children— that I would know how to take care of them, provide for them, to support them, raise them, and make them feel safe and loved. I knew that I wanted to raise them to be the wonderful people that they are becoming— the people that I knew they would be even before they were born.

At the end of the day, I prayed for my children’s happiness.

So… if I want my kids to be happy.

And things don’t equal happiness.

Then that means… it’s OKAY to say no a lot to those requests for things.

Because by saying “no” to some (or a lot) of those requests will teach my children that very important lesson & maybe they won’t put their time, energy, and money into buying things that won’t matter.

As a child, I can remember many wonderful times with my family, most of which involved being at home with my family— not spending money or buying things. Just being together, playing games, talking, etc.

My friend Hillary shared a story that brings the point home… “Growing up, we didn’t have any money.  So somewhere inside of me, I think I knew not to ask for a lot of things.  Sure, Christmas and birthdays were fair game, but even I knew there were some things you didn’t ask for.  

And do you want to know probably my favorite Christmas ever?  The one where my parents gave both me and my sisters a $10 handheld game from Radio Shack and a new pair of slippers.  And that’s it.  

And I tear up just writing those words because even now, I can imagine my parent’s heartbreak at being able to give only that.  I know now that they thought they were letting us down.  But they were so wrong.  

I loved those puppy slippers so much!  (they even had long “hair” that I combed incessantly)  And I played that game until it broke, I think.

And I was happy.  

I was happy not BECAUSE of the gift they gave me, but because of the parents who gave it.  

And once I had my children, I remember talking to my mom about trying to raise kids who aren’t spoiled and who appreciate what they have.  And she said this:

“You know Hillary; it was hard for me to raise you with no money.  There were so many things I wanted to give you but just couldn’t.  And it will be hard for you to raise your girls because you have the money to buy them more things than I could.  But you will have to teach them about the value of a dollar and show them that money doesn’t equal happiness.  And I think you will have a harder time.”

And she’s right. ”

Because for me, a dollar item from the Target One-Spot won’t break the bank…but it’s not the lesson I want my kids to learn.  

Because if I teach them now that buying things will make them happy, that lesson will stick.   And if I teach them that buying things won’t make them happy – that will stick, too.

Our response when our kids ask for “things”

  • Tell them to remember it for Christmas, their birthday, graduation… or whatever celebration is coming up.
    The number of times they have remembered this item when the said event arrives: ZERO
  • Flat out tell them “No.”  Sometimes they need to hear that they don’t need that toy, that shirt, that pack of gum.  Period.
  • Take a picture of the “thing” with the price and tell my kids they are welcome to save up their money to buy it themselves.

Does doing these things make them stop asking?  No.  

Has it minimized how many times they ask?  YES!  Drastically.

So I have to think and hope that we’re doing something right…and something is sticking…and it’s something I hope sticks around for a long, long time.

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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