Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

I will not have spoiled children.  I will not have entitled children.   My love?  They can have it all.  They can have  it all and a bag of potato chips.  They can have the sky, the moon, the sun, they can have every ounce of my love and devotion.  But I’ll be damned if I inadvertently cripple them by lavishing them with stuff. How much do I love my children?  I love them enough to not give them everything.  I will be the first person to tell you that we fight tooth and nail to not lavish them with the burden of materialism and false reality.  I don’t ever want my children to believe that life and all the trappings of living come easy.  Stuff is just stuff.  Labels are just labels.  And the choices and actions I take communicate giant truths to my children.

Have you ever watched My Super Sweet 16 on MTV?  Never before had I been so enthralled and appalled by a show before.  I yelled at the screen…stomped off muttering like a crazy lady…threw my hands in the air…fumbled with the remote control too enraged to find the power button.  How on Earth did these kids get to be the way they are?  And then I saw their parents.

Now, don’t go getting me wrong.  They’re wealthy, they live on a different plane of reality. The latest convertible BMW is totally equivalent to my first car, a 1987 Ford Mustang, right?  But how many of these kids are capable of maintaining the lifestyle that their parents provided for them ON THEIR OWN?

Yeah.  Exactly.  <cue credit card debt and boomerang children>

We’re not loaded, at least, not to my knowledge.  And I put zero stock in the lottery, so we’ve got no chances of winning the Powerball.  But we’re not without either.

I think that a lot of what we pass on to our kids we do so not realizing what we’re passing on.

Do you know why my kids don’t eat fast food?  Because I turn up my nose at fast food.

Do you know why my child expects a hot chocolate each time we go to Starbucks?  Because I created that expectation by giving in on several occasions.

How I Set Spending Boundaries When It Comes To My Children

There are some real places where I’ve put my foot down.  Here’s what I don’t do:

  • Lavish birthday parties Go ahead, keep raising the bar and I’ll look forward to watching your very own episode of My Super Sweet 16.
  • Gifts on not your birthday If it’s not your birthday, you don’t get a gift.  I don’t care how young you are.
  • Overgifting on minor holidays Sometimes a card and a hug will suffice.  Down with the holiday baskets!  Sorry, Mom.
  • Calling attention to brand-name versus non-branded  The only reason brand names have power is because we give them power.  Do you really need your child telling you they prefer X brand?
  • Personal electronics I have a 6 and 2 year old.  Nobody is getting their own e-reader or music player.  Let’s learn how to share.
  • Buying quiet and compliance Bribery is dangerous and you’ll eventually have to up the ante.  Don’t go there, Girlfriend.
  • Overextending on extracurricular activities Talk about expensive and all the taxi time!  Pick one or two and call it square.  Not only will you overextend your budget, you’ll overextend your schedule.  Let the kids be kids.
  • Saying “I/We can’t afford” Come from a position of power.  You CHOOSE not to buy it because it is not part of your plan.  Sure, I can afford x item, but we may not be able to buy our groceries.  Choices are always there.

Why You Should Hold Back

You should hold back because you love your children.  Because you want to teach them that not everything comes easy.  That you don’t get everything because you want it now.

Because you know how tempting it is to get sucked into the upgrade lifestyle.  As we get older, acquire more things, more money, more power…we have a tendency to get sucked into the idea that we have to upgrade.  Bigger house, nicer car, better clothing, longer and more luxurious vacations.  Because we deserve it.

And for a lot of us, we worked hard to get there.  We understand the magnitude of how far we’ve come.  But your kids don’t.  And if you take them on this journey with you, they won’t understand it.  They’ll expect it.  It’s their reality.

They’ll become accustomed to a certain quality of life that just isn’t realistic.  And then they’ll become your burden because you didn’t teach them the real nitty gritty of life.  Because you didn’t teach them that nothing in life comes easy.

And I fight this every day.  So, don’t go thinking I’ve got this all figured out.  I don’t.  I am trying so hard to not overdo it but to also share the fruits of our labors.

You know what my mom said to me the other day?  “Stop taking the girls to Disneyworld.  It’s losing its magic.  They don’t see the magic.”  I was so not hearing that.  As a matter of fact, I think I shut her down.  I remember saying something to the effect of “but we live so close!”  You know what she said?  “So what?”


Are you struggling to get your family members on board with your anti-spoiled kid initiative?  Check out what to do when your family members go rogue.



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  1. Love this reminder!

  2. Kristin says:

    Brilliant as always!

  3. Kristine says:

    Great post! Is that your daughter in the picture??

    My husband and I have recently been discussing this A LOT! I don’t know if you ever came to my “house” (a 1970′s? 2 bedroom, 1 bath 900-ish sq ft trailer) in Savannah, but let’s just say it is a world away from the (5 bedroom + bonus room, 3 bath, 3000 sq ft) house my kids are growing up in. To me your base housing seemed luxurious! This is the life of my dreams, but to my kids this is “normal”. Also, because there were things I didn’t have when I was younger I enjoy giving those things to my kids. I hope I can figure out how to balance that with teaching them to appreciate our blessings. So any ideas you have on that issue will be much appreciated!

    Also, I TOTALLY agree with the “no presents if it’s not your birthday” issue! Can you send out an APB to the grandparents and extended family about that?!! I have a bit of an issue with the minor holidays just because they are so much fun for me too. And something a friend told me about this week that I am thinking about putting into practice is having a birthday party every other year. For one we have three kids and it gets expensive to host a big party for all of them. Not that we go all out in Super Sweet 16 fashion, but by the time we invite our large family, a few neighbors, and a few friends over it always turns out to be a big event. Celebrating on a small scale every other year will help our wallets and hopefully teach them to appreciate the parties that we do have for them.

    Loving your blog!

    • Yes! That’s La Grande, age 2….sigh. Feels like yesterday.

      I can totally relate and I think I do remember your house! I don’t think our housing topped 1008 sq. feet, but anything is more when you have less. As far as the grandparents thing, I AM ON IT! You’re the second person to mention that request! I had to put the smackdown on the excess and I’m thinking that I have to have another round of pep talks on this topic. I know everyone means well, but I want my girls to value people and not the stuff that they’ll come to associate with the people…you know?

      I’m so flattered that you’re reading and loving it! Thank you for reading and thank you for encouraging me to continue!


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