by Kimberly K. Parker Often, I find my children engaged in conversations about toys and games they plan to acquire…one day. With various methods and means of advertising, they are bound to eventually make the acquaintance of an item that captures their undivided attention. Unless it truly serves an educational need, my husband and I purchase out of necessity and do not over indulge our children in the latest “this” or the most advanced “that”. Instead, we strategically invest in a game or activity here and there while closely monitoring its use.
For several months, my sons had hoped to get an Xbox®. In spite of their many requests, it has not been honored. In 2008 they pooled together money they saved for a year and, with a little extra help from extended family, purchased a Wii®. As far as I was concerned, if I could hold onto my Atari® for over ten years…and like it…then they had no room to even think about upgrading their two-year old console!
Recently, my older son made haste to get to me while in the kitchen. His face was all aglow as he planted himself just a few steps beyond where I stood. It was obvious that he had a brilliant idea and he was most anxious to hurl it my way! I could hardly wait to hear his sure-fire plan that, apparently, he surmised would be readily accepted. Knowing well my system of saving money, he suggested that in order for he and his brother to get the Xbox® they long desired, I should put aside a little bit of money every week. Once I’ve saved enough, together we would go shopping for this just-gotta-have-one game and, finally, it would be theirs for years to come!
Stroking my chin while pausing briefly, I gently smiled at this beautiful tween-child of mine. For a moment, I got stuck on his most handsome face and keen mind. Seems like yesterday I just brought him home from the hospital! With the daze lifting, I applauded him for his ingenuity! It was most apparent he invested a bit of thought into how he could help me find a way to help him. In essence, should I adopt his plan then he could actually receive credit for contributing to the ultimate acquisition of the console.
Now, I’d like to consider myself as a promoter of self-sufficiency. You know: “God bless the child’s that got his own, that’s got his own!” Through a plethora of personal experiences, I adopted this mindset early on in my life. If beyond food, shelter, and clothing it was to be, it was clearly up to me. So, I countered his proposal and suggested that he and his brother do what they did two years before: save their monies and pool it together whereby they will be able to purchase the Xbox®. Additionally, I encouraged him to develop this “better savings plan” in writing, outlining all of the particulars of earning the money.
Of course this route would prolong the purchase a bit, but it would be well worth the wait! To be gleaned are lessons in self-sufficiency, patience, saving, and investing all of which would certainly yield a lifetime of positive results. It is far too easy to just hand our children life and all therein on a platter. If our mission as parents is to groom them into productive contributors of our society and the world at large, we must employ various rites of passage and teach them how. In essence, stop handing them the fish, but teach them how to fish. I hope and pray to do them justice.
Kimberly K. Parker is the owner of Writing Momma Publishing (www.writingmomma.com). She is hosting “Isn’t She Lovely!”, an elegant father and daughter event in March 2011 in hopes of promoting the importance of the relationship between little girls and their fathers. Visit www.isntshelovely.eventbrite.com to purchase tickets and for more information. Kimberly is an author and blogger living in Maryland with her husband and three children.