I’m struggling recently with a strange problem.
I keep having to stop myself from buying my kids neat things.
And this isn’t just a problem when we have extra money in our budget. I’ll go by a garage sale and see 56 toys my girls would love for $3. Or I find myself on Amazon at midnight and see I can order a doll they would love to play with and it’s only $6 with free shipping and free returns! I can even go to Dollar Tree and buy them all kinds of knickknacks that will light up their eyes for less than $10.
I’m not struggling with buying my kids clothes or toys that are hundreds of dollars, but almost daily there is an opportunity to buy them something for a great deal!
I love buying stuff for my kids. I love obtaining cool things. I love finding deals. I love seeing my kids happy. I love giving my kids something that will keep them occupied for a bit. I love not hearing my kids whine because they want something I won’t give them. I love the feeling I get from buying my kids stuff because it feels like I’m buying myself something without the guilt of doing something for myself. I love giving my kids toys I would have loved when I was their age but didn’t have.
I’ve noticed I’m not alone in this battle. It seems our generation overall has an obsession with giving our kids “things.” Maybe we just love our kids so much, maybe stuff is just so accessible nowadays, or maybe it’s out of some fear of our children lacking anything. NOT buying things for our kids has become a sacrifice that takes serious self-control.
Here’s why many of us need to consider giving our kids less.
Help kids develop contentment and perseverance. What happens when a kid, who is used to constantly having something new to enjoy, grows up? I think there’s a good likelihood that he or she will either have a much harder time being content with life if he or she isn’t able to keep buying new things or will get in a lot of debt to maintain a constant flow of more stuff.
I believe if our kids are used to not getting stuff on a regular basis, they will have better perseverance for times in their lives that may be tight. Not to mention they’ll be conditioned to be content with what they have instead of constantly wanting more.
I don’t want my kids to grow up and make decisions based on maintaining a lifestyle of owning a lot of things and always needing some new object. I want my kids to be doctors in Africa — if that’s the right calling for them — or teachers or stay-at-home moms, and not run from paths that may not make them a lot of money due to fear of being without.
Teach kids appreciation for what they have. When our kids have “everything,” it can be easier for them to miss how blessed they are and more difficult for them to really value what they have. When our kids are not always receiving stuff, I think they can better appreciate when we do give them something.
Growing up, my parents would not usually buy us McDonald’s happy meals. So that once a year when they did, we were so ecstatic and appreciative, and we enjoyed it fully.
Help kids be less stuff-oriented. The last thing we want is for our kids to value stuff more than people. But this could be an unintended consequence when so much of our pleasure in life is found in constantly getting new things, and when most of our excitement comes from stuff.
Raise compassionate children. I’ve noticed a great way to have compassion for others is to at least partially share in their experience. If our kids have never been without on some level, I think it can be more difficult for them to understand people who are struggling economically. It can be a big challenge for kids who have “everything” to relate to others who don’t.
Help kids be more creative and resourceful. When kids don’t rely on an influx of new objects to keep them busy, it’s more likely they will dig deep and use their creativity to play. This can also help our kids learn to be resourceful because they have to rely on what they already have and their imaginations to keep their minds busy. It’s a great gift to teach children to play with whatever they find around them.
Avoid addiction to one high after another. I don’t want to raise kids who end up being addicted to anything. I’m genuinely concerned that if we create an environment where our kids are used to getting a constant “high” from receiving new stuff, they will have a higher chance of becoming adults in a continuous search from one high to the next. We want to raise kids who can be content with what they have and not restlessly waiting for what’s next.