Giving Our Kids What Really Matters
Parenting critics love to hammer mothers (and fathers) about why we give our kids so much. Boys have too any video games and electronic gadgets and girls have far too many clothes. Modern-day teens and college students travel the globe the way we used to travel to Florida on spring break. Mothers harp about other mothers who spoil their kids by indulging them with cell phones, cars, and sometimes exotic vacations, and the funniest part is that those who criticize others are succumbing to the same indulgences as all the rest.
The truth is, most American kids are spoiled, and I fully understand why. I’ve done the same, because when it comes to giving to our kids, what mother isn’t going to struggle with how much and how soon to give? Giving things to our kids is complicated. We give because we love them, and we want them to feel good. We give because that’s what mothers know how to do. We give until it hurts, and then we give some more. Then experts come along and criticize us for doing what feels quite natural.
The tricky part in being a mother is that giving is good and it is natural, but we forget to give what really matters to our kids (our time, attention, and affection) and instead spend our energy paying for things for them. We do so because we believe that things matter more to their success than we do. It’s not that our motives are wrong; they are simply guided in the wrong direction—the same direction that all of our friends are headed in. We are stubbornly convinced that providing nicer homes, schools, clothes, tutors, piano lessons, etc., makes us better mothers. This is not a conscious belief; rather it is a strong subconscious feeling that drives many of our parenting behaviors.
But, the problem is that we are duped. Rarely do kids describe their mothers as being fabulous moms because of the material things they provide. When I ask adult children about their parents, they talk about their mothers’ greatness in terms of their kindness, affection, and caring. (Yes, and they even describe their favorite foods their mothers made.) Young kids talk to me about their moms’ moods, how fun they are, or whether they are crabby. They don’t boast about their shoes, their schools, or the sports they play when talking about their mothers. They talk about their moms, not what their moms give them.
As far as kids are concerned, good mothers are known by their character, not by the education, clothes, or coaches they supply.
Where’s your focus in giving to your kids?
Is it buying things in order to acquire more
or is it giving more of yourself—your time, attention, and affection?
Moms, find more encouragement in The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers.