Running the shuttle yesterday, Mackenzie and I drove thru one of the older neighborhoods in our area. You know the ones – with the big, old, huge estates that the people who built the towns used to live in. The houses that are enviable even to those who know the secrets that often live behind the doors. Right on cue, she starts telling me how much she wishes that we lived in those houses and had their money.
How old are we when we start “coveting” other people’s things? I think it’s a lot earlier than we think. It happens as soon as we start socializing with people outside of our family. We steal toys from our play dates proclaiming them “MINE!”. Then it’s on to school where we always want the outfit that someone is wearing, the spot on the team that we didn’t make and the grades of the valedictorian.
We move into our lives as adults and the yearning continues.. the new, shiny car. The rock hard, in-shape bodies. The amazing vacations. The big house in the old-established neighborhoods. It goes on and on.
When is enough enough? When do we get to the point where we’re okay with what we have? To realize that unless you’re have the same number of zeros as Bill Gates, someone will always have more than you.
But a lot of parents live so large with their kids that I have to wonder – how can anything in life ever live up to their childhood? I’ve heard stories more than once from Mackenzie about the kids she goes to school with. I realize that there is a fair amount of embellishment to the stories, but if even half of what she’s telling is close to the truth, it’s insane what parents are doing. Shopping sprees that adults would be jealous of, over the top parties for regular birthdays – the list goes on. You would think we go to private school but that’s not the case. While we attend the best “district”, we’re still in the public schools.
A generation of over-achievers is raising a generation of over-“expectors”. This is the generation that will soon step into the world as tax paying, voting individuals and quite frankly, it scares the crap out of me. They will have no concept of what it means to want something and having to wait for it. I just don’t get how these parents think that they’re doing their kids any favors by catering to every single whim – simple or outrageous. I’m already seeing a few of the parents having to deal with the monsters they’ve created and in some ways, it’s really sad to watch them with their palms to the air wondering “what is going wrong here?”.
When did we move from a society of wanting to expecting? There is a huge difference in the two.
I am not innocent in making statements of wanting things but I really try not to and I definitely try not to around our kids. I try to teach them that while we may not have everything in the world, we have more than a lot of people. Would I love to take a big vacation (or two) every year? Sure. But when we do get the chance to go, it makes the trip that much more special. Would I love to have a new car every two years? Sure. But not having a car payment is a pretty nice thing. I’ve told the girls more than once – even if we had all the money in the world, they wouldn’t be the recipients of an endless bounty of goods. And I mean that sincerely.
Some people show their love with things. I prefer to show my love with love.
I’ve seen too many instances where people were building their relationships with things and with money. Once the money was gone – so were the relationships. What an awful existence. I’ve pointed out to the girls that a lot of times, when a kid seems like they have everything, they usually don’t have a lot. They don’t have parents around as much as we are (someone has to work for those $800 boots) and to compensate for the fact that they’re not around, parents will sometimes use things to make up for it.
Say what you want, but I’d bet money that each of those kids that Mackenzie tells stories about would trade all the stuff in their closets for a couple of Friday Family Game Nights.
Are you raising a teen or a tween? Join the conversation over at Ten to Twenty Parenting!