In today’s fast-paced, instant gratification society, it is no surprise that kids constantly want, want, want. Before we moved to a home that did not have internet access, our kiddos never watched regular TV. Instead, they had Netflix, and at the time I didn’t realize just how awesome Netflix was. Sure, I understood that we could pick what we wanted to watch, and when we wanted to watch it, but something bigger was happening without my knowledge. Netflix was protecting my kids from this constant want, want, want or need, need, need mentality that is so ingrained in our society. How? Because the viewing was ad-free. The kiddos weren’t constantly being bombarded with the latest and greatest new toy every ten minutes. Think about that for a minute.
For every thirty-minute television program, at least ten minutes is pure advertisements, in which advertisers are forcing themselves onto those impressionable young minds. No wonder they want every damn thing under the sun. Well, those ads hang on in their little minds, and we cannot so much as drive by Target without the kids begging for a new toy. Well, frankly, I am that mean mommy. You know, the one who doesn’t buy her kid a new toy every damn time we go to the store. Gasp! How dare I deny my kid the next greatest toy ever invented!?!?! Well, my friends, think about the lessons you are teaching your kids about money when you give in to their begging and whining for a new toy every time they ask. In case it is hard for you to see, I will lay it out for you.
Lessons You Teach Your Kids When You Give Them Everything They Want All The Damn Time
A disrespect for money:
Ok, well, why should we “respect” money? Maybe respect isn’t the best use of language here, but you are teaching them that money is just no big deal. Like my mother used to tell me, “money doesn’t grow on trees,” but when you buy them something new and shiny all the time, this is exactly what you are teaching them. That money does grow on trees, or in the field or something because if it didn’t, you wouldn’t part with it so easily. A kid doesn’t understand that you bought them a cheap toy that costs less than an expensive toy. All they know is that they wanted to buy something with YOUR money, and you gave in. Money must be easy to come by if every time they ask, you buy.
The Idea That Being Loved Means That Someone Spent Money On You:
This is a huge one, my friends. It is a nice feeling to be surprised by a loved one with a random gift. For me, I love it when my husband picks flowers at work and brings them home to me. This is more special than anything he would ever buy me, but if you were talking to the woman I was 10 years ago, I would not have been so in love with this concept of hand-picked flowers. I was very materialistic. As I type, the reflection of the diamond ring on my right hand reminds me that when I wanted a gift my man wouldn’t buy it, I just went out and bought it myself. I considered this an empowering woman thing to do, but yet I constantly harped that he must not have loved me because this was the one thing I asked for Christmas. Since he didn’t cave in and buy me an obnoxiously priced diamond, I went and bought it myself because he didn’t love me anyway. The real joke was on my 21-year-old self though because I financed it and ended up paying interest just to prove that I didn’t need a man to buy me things. (Please note this was an ex-boyfriend and not the hubs) I equated love with gifts, and that is not what love is. So next time you want to go buy your kid some major gift that they don’t need for no reason or even continuously buy them small gifts at the store every time you go, remember that you are teaching them to equate love with gifts. Instead, sit with them for an hour playing with the toys they already have. They will love that more than any new, shiny object you may buy for them.
It’s Not Important To Take Care Of The Things You Have Because You Will Get A New Toy In A Few Days Anyway (Lack of value):
I don’t know many kids who don’t have a closet or toy bin full or even overflowing with toys. If we were asked if our kids needed a new toy, the answer would always be, “no.” Toys are not needs. Toys are wants. When we buy a new toy, the kid is likely going to devalue all of the other toys they already own. Why would they want to play with the doll they got last week when the one they got this week has super fun fairy wings? And so the wingless Barbie gets tossed aside and will sit in the bottom of the toy bin until mommy goes hunting through their toys for things to sell on eBay or take to the thrift shop. We need to teach our kids to value the things they have, and to take good care of the things they have so they don’t “need” a new toy every time we go to the store. They will value the things they have and not be constantly on the lookout to replace their perfectly good toys all the time.
A Life Of Always Wanting More or A Constant Feeling That You Will Be Happier If You Just Have One More Thing (Never Being Satisfied With What You Have):
While I am no psychologist, I have studied a thing or two about human behavior. It is so obvious when adults are just trying to fill some void in their life by constantly buying new things. These folks have all they need and all they want, but they can just never get their fill. The satisfaction or thrill of the purchase lasts for a day or two, maybe a week depending on the purchase, but then the satisfaction is gone. To get that high, they go out and buy more and everything they have bought previously sits collecting dust. I want my kids to feel satisfied with the things they have and seek happiness through connections with people rather than material things. For us, trinkets and material objects quickly lose their thrill and fade away, but the memories we make by connecting over a delicious meal or a family game night are forever in our memories. These things cannot be taken away from us.
A Belief That Money Buys Happiness:
This goes hand in hand with #4 above, but it is worth a separate mention. There’s the old joke out that there that people who think money doesn’t buy happiness have never experienced (fill in the blank). Sure, money can buy things that will temporarily make you happy. I challenge you to name one thing that you bought that is still bringing you as much happiness today as it did the day you bought it. Be honest with yourself. The only thing I ask is that you leave out things that were bought for sentimental value, for example, a wedding ring. While I didn’t buy my wedding ring, every time I look at it, I am reminded that every day, I get to call him mine. If I lost the ring or if it were stolen, I would be sad, but my memories are made with my husband. The ring isn’t what brings me happiness, it’s the man who gave it to me. So, again, name one thing you bought in your life that still brings you the same level of happiness as the day you bought it. It’s our job to teach our kids that materialistic goods do not bring permanent happiness, and we should evaluate what we spend our money on to make wise decisions.
A Disrespect for the Work That Brings Home the Bacon:
My little man used to get very upset when I would leave for work. He would cry and beg me to stay home. It was heartbreaking, and I tried several things to get him to understand why I had to go to work. This past year, I would say “mommy has to go to work so we can go to Disney World,” and that appeased him for a little while, but then he started to tell me that he would rather have me home than go to Disney. Talk about melting my heart! What a sweet, sweet boy. What I was doing though, was essentially telling him that to have any fun, I had to go to work. He was willing to give up fun because we have already started to instill in him an understanding that family is more important than things. Experiences and memories are more valuable than any toy he could ever receive. So I had to change what I told him in the mornings. I began telling him that to have a house and food to eat that mommy had to go to work. Believe it or not, we don’t have meltdowns anymore. He now understands that we have basic needs that must be met and to meet them, mommy and daddy have to work. He values and appreciates that we do go to work to take care of his basic needs. This is not to say he never asks for a new toy, but our little man is much more in tune with the concept of money and how important it is that mommy and daddy work to receive money to take care of our basic needs.
Funny Side Note:
When we went to Disney last year, the kids each had spending money they received from their birthdays and special gifts from their grandparents. I told them they could spend this money however they wanted. Kids were eager to spend her money, and the first night we went to Disney Springs, she saw those cheap ass light up toys and the girl had her heart set on buying all the things! The hubs and I tried to convince her that this was junk, and it ended up in an argument with crying and everything. I told her if that is how she wanted to waste her money, that was on her. Little man starts balling his eyes out crying that “She’s gonna spend all her money on Chinese junk!” (wonder where he heard that from) It was the cutest moment of a little brother’s concern for his big sister. He gets it. At just 4 years old, he gets the importance and value of money. Proud Mama!
My friends, I am here to tell you, that you are not a bad parent just because you say “no” to your precious little one’s obsession with getting new toys. You deserve applause! You are doing it right! You are teaching your kids that we can’t always have everything we want. A life lesson better learned as a child than a twenty-something who was recently introduced to credit cards! So many young people were never taught this notion of delayed gratification, and they become grown-ups who drop a Benjamin every time they go to target for milk simply because they’ve never been taught to say no to their wants. They’ve never been taught to evaluate every purchase to determine what the purchase in question is going to do for them.
Good money habits are not instinctual.
They must be taught, and as a parent, I want my kids to understand the value of money and not just from a monetary standpoint. I want them to understand the time value of money, and how we exchange our time for money to meet needs and sometimes meet wants. Kids are of the age at this point that we are going to introduce chores and an allowance. I am not sure of the ins and outs of that just yet, but it’s coming! Money, unfortunately, doesn’t grow on trees, and so the right thing to do is teach our children exactly how we get money, why we can’t have everything we want all the time, and why it is so important to learn to be happy with the things you already have. “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you got.”