Parents are amongst the most conscientious people on the planet. We work, we strive and we love and we care. Our energy levels and patience seem inexhaustible. Great parents are like swans. They make everything they do look effortless, belying the frantic thrashing that’s going on beneath the surface. All parents want to ensure that their kids had more than they did growing up; that they get the opportunities and experiences that they missed out on as children.
But we can take this too far, to the point where we risk spoiling (and ultimately failing) our kids. We can drive ourselves into financial hardships keeping up with their endless ‘wants’ lists and actually leave them feeling less fulfilled. Here we’ll look at why you can actually do more for your kids by doing less and some practical ways in which you can do this while still ensuring that they grow up realizing just how lucky they are…
Why doing more can be doing less for your kids in the long term
As much as we may treasure childhood memories, we are also shaped by our adversities. We remember certain birthdays and Christmases warmly but they did not shape us into the person we became.
We didn’t necessarily learn anything from them and they didn’t make us better people. When our parents capitulated to our demands for a certain toy or a certain item of clothing it was far less meaningful to us than when they refused.
When they refused, we found ourselves having to apply our wits to the situation. We saved or worked. We sacrificed and went without. Then we learned to prioritize financially and when we eventually got the precious thing we wanted, we did so on our own terms and it was that much sweeter for the experience.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. We all love spoiling our kids every now and then and seeing their faces light up when we give them presents is a joyous thing.
But the surge of pleasure we get from this is like any other. If we don’t exercise some self-discipline, we’ll find ourselves chasing the next one and the next and the next. Before we know it, we’re spoiling our kids and denying them the valuable life lessons that will make them happier and more fulfilled as adults.
Teach them to appreciate bargains
There’s never a bad age to start introducing them to the concept of money and the family budget. The sooner you do this, the sooner they realize that the things they want have monetary value and when they don’t get what they want, it’s because the family finances can’t accommodate it, rather than you pursuing a vendetta against their happiness.
Teach them to appreciate bargains like the coupons found in DealHack.ca. Help them understand the frugal joy to be found in making savings. It’s a skill that will prove invaluable to them in adulthood.
Teach them to find joy in the simple things.
Happiness isn’t exclusively found inexpensive bikes, clothes, and games consoles. It can be found in something as quotidian as a walk in the park, the scent of a flower or the sight of birds and animals at play.
One of the most meaningful gifts we can give our kids is a love of nature and an appreciation of the little magical things that make up life.
Try giving them one “yes” day a year
If you genuinely struggle to discipline yourself when it comes to treating your kids, try limiting them to one “yes” day a year. “Yes,” days are proven to help kids become more disciplined and defer their gratification, making them much more able to cope with life’s myriad little disappointments for the rest of the year.
Sometimes doing less really is the most you can do for your kids.