Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Letters from an inadequate mom.

When my first child was born, my husband and I decided to give our kids everything I never had growing up.  That is not to say that I necessarily had an unhappy childhood, in fact, I can't remember needing anything that my mom and step dad did not provide.  In fact, during my childhood, I was too busy playing with / tormenting my sisters and friends to realize that my parents struggled to put food on the table, a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs without a dollar from my biological dad.   Yet even though I never felt deprived as a child, when I became a parent, I somehow felt guilt about not giving my children all of the things that their peers were getting.

When my children were little, I spent a lot of time stressing out about whether or not they were being raised with the same experiences as most of their peers.  My husband and I sacrificed to give them designer clothes, vacations, big Christmases.  When they were little, it was great.  But as they started to get older, we started seeing a disturbing trend:  entitlement and discontentment.  They didn't have to work long hours to pay for the rental car, hotel, excursions or souvenirs (they didn't even pack their own bag most of the time), so if something wasn't perfectly to their liking, they would whine about it.  While they were happy on Christmas morning with the expensive gifts that they had received, by the next year, when the latest toy or game was old technology, they no longer appreciated it.  They probably couldn't tell you what they received for Christmas two years ago.  What knocked me back to my senses was the realization that I no longer enjoyed my children's company.  Rather I was irritated with not being able to enjoy the vacation that I provided because I was treated like a tour guide (one that was woefully inadequate and would not be tipped).

It was then that I realized that my parents, even though they would have probably given us the world if they had had the financial resources, gave us a far greater gift by not taking us to Disney World or giving us a million presents on Christmas morning.  They gave us the gift of gratitude and a work ethic.  It is my fondest hope that by pulling back and not giving my children the things that they want, even though I can afford to do so, that I will give them a much more precious gift:  appreciation. 

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