One of my friends recently had a dilemma about what to buy her son for his birthday. As she was rattling off the list of possibilities, I was unable to concentrate on what she was saying because I was wondering why she was considering spending so much money on this “stuff” for a little person.
This of course is just one of my parenting theories but I don’t think it is necessary to spend a boatload of money on designer fashions and expensive gadgets for kids. Kids have no sense of material value until their parents instill it in them. They don’t know the difference between a $1.00 magnifying glass from Dollar Tree and a $200.00 science set. Most of the kids that I know would rather have experiences that build memories with their parents than all of the “stuff”. They would rather have a 1,000 hugs than a $1,000.00 because they have no concept of money.
I don’t feel sorry for parents of teenagers when their kids are demanding the best of everything because somewhere along the way, the parents put it in their head that this stuff was valuable. My son is still a toddler and has not been influenced by peer pressure at school yet so I am not sure if this theory will hold up as he gets older but I don’t see myself changing my strategy. I want him to value participating in activities that will create memories between his family and friends over having a bunch of “stuff”.
I do believe that we should try to give our children the best that life has to offer but I think a large part of the problem with Generation Y is that they have had it too good. I constantly hear employer’s complain that this generation has little to no work ethic and they think for every action there should be a reward. This thought process is a direct result of their parents giving them “stuff” as a reward for each good deed. It is not good for the children because as they grow into adults, they will not be rewarded for every good deed or accomplishment. In fact, sometimes doing the right thing might result in a negative consequence and other times their goodness may go unnoticed which could lead to frustration and a loss of interest in the project/job. By encouraging children to value the experience over the reward or the stuff, they may develop a healthier work ethic and outlook on life.