Your Child is Not the Center of the Universe

  1. Cathy B. says:

    We donate toys and books on a regular basis and talk about how we still are luckier than most. We parents all do the most we can for our kids and when they appreciate it and are thankful and gracious they are not spoiled. We have been struggling financially putting my stepdaughter through college and it was great for my kids to see.  They learned how much we all value education and we all learned to do without lots of “extras” while their friends went on ski vacations and got their own ipod touches.  Our kids know how much we love them and they know it has nothing to do with how much money we spend on them. It is all about setting the right example, with our actions as well as our words.  

    • Anonymous says:

       I totally agree. I never thought I’d face the dilemma I have now- We really closely watch our spending on our children (we’re putting two through college right now!), but we get a lot of free opportunities for them that it seems cruel/pointless to say no to. So I’m trying to figure out how to navigate that now.

      • NancyB says:

        Do they understand when you tell them it’s part of your job?  That you just happen to work in a profession that other people want you to take these opportunities to review them for other people?  I don’t even know if that’s the case but I think it is!  Would it make a difference if you had them send thank you notes to the companies that send you somewhere?
        Does it make you feel like you have to “explain yourself” to others if Punky and Bruiser bring it that they went here and there?
        Sorry for being so investigative!!  Just curious though.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The way we’ve kept our sons from being absorbed into the self-centered American culture is to limit their exposure to it.  Nearly all of their social and educational interaction has been within our own subculture, mostly revolving around our church and Christian school.  They’ve watched us all their lives doing works of service for others, so it’s normal to them.  We require them to be heavily involved with at least one ministry of our church.

    We’ve been mocked by others for the way we’ve raised our sons, now 16 and 18.  The biggest criticism has been that by limiting their exposure to secular culture, we’ve hindered their ability to live in that culture when they become adults.  But this is a ridiculous argument.  Would you send your 12-year-old out to fight a war just because he might need to fight a war in the future?

    • Anonymous says:

      This is a good point, and one that deserves a post of its own, because I’m definitely fighting this battle as well. I’m trying very hard to naturally limit what my kids are exposed to, without them realizing it. I created a Pandora kids’ radio station just for them in the car, so they never hear popular songs on the radio and we record what they see on TV so that’s not an issue, either. We’re also looking into a middle school for them with small classes and “home school” two days a week, with the intent of having more of an influence in their lives than we would if they were at school all day, every day. This is all a result of having raised two kids already and learning from our mistakes.  I don’t want them to feel like they’re missing out, so I’m trying to come up with creative ways to shield them so that they don’t even notice or care. 

  3. Mary A says:

    We send them to Catholic School and explain to them often the reasons we do, as well as the sacrifices the family makes so they can attend.  We also expect them to be Altar Servers and.. . . I know I sound like a Tiger mom here, but I expect my boys to become Eagle Scouts.  The Eagle Scout curriculum is service and character centered.  I have never met an Eagle Scout who wasn’t a good person. (I am sure they are out there — I just haven’t met any.)  This structure allows us to reinforce our values, and like some of your other readers, allows us to take them out of secular culture. 

  4. Jenna says:

    I have been thinking about this topic lately too. With Christmas coming up, I have to fight the urge to overspend on our babe. I want it to be a great first Christmas, but I have to remember that I am doing her a disservice if I spend too much money and make it about what it’s not. Instead, I vow to spend time with her doing holiday activities. If I really think about it, I remember looking at Christmas lights with my parents far more than what I opened up that year!


  5. NancyB says:

    My son is now 21 and I’ve already raised him through this stage so I guess the damage is done LOL!
    He’s our only child — and I’ve actually had people tell me he is one of the kindest, politest kids could they keep him and give us their kids.We didn’t give him everything he asked for – he got presents at Christmas and his birthday.  He got new clothes twice a year.  We couldn’t afford much more.  Our vacations were back to California to visit relatives, or weekend camping trips with my sisters and their families.  I didn’t censor music but since I was in charge of the car radio, we listened to Disney soundtracks (Lion King!) or country music, we didn’t go to church on a regular basis but he went to catechism.As he got older our financial situation eased up, there was more expendable income but we stuck to the same routine.  Thankfully the cell phone craze and Ipods, MySpace, Facebook came at a time it was age appropriate for him.  But the phone and IPod and the XBox were always given as gifts at Christmas or his birthday. More importantly than anything else – we talked.  If I read something in the paper that was the basis for a lesson, I’d read it out loud and we’d talk about it (my husband included).  If we saw something happening, I’d say something about it and we’d talk about it.  If he does something I’m not happy about – we talk about it even now because I want him to be the best he can be.So I guess although I didn’t specifically teach my son to “serve others and do good work”, I think I have laid the groundwork for that to happen.  I think I’ve always had great compassion for people in need but didn’t find my avenue for serving others until 4 years ago with my little brother.  I know Cody has that same compassion and with time it will come out. Now I’m going to say this **based on my experience of my age and the age of my son and friends and their children and the way they were raised** — Parent your children based on faith in them and not in fear of what is out there.  Don’t ever be afraid to say no, Don’t ever hesitate to talk to them about what’s on your mind.  

  6. I have one child, who while not necessarily “spoiled” persay, definitely does not have to share or compete for financial resources. I don’t want him to take his life for granted and think that all children have it as easy as he does. So, right now my son and I have opened our home to a single mother and her 2 children while she gets her life together. I explained to him that we are  trying to be a blessing by helping someone who does not have as much as we do.

  7. Melissa says:

    This is something we’re already dealing with, and our son is not even 2 yet! We had to ask my in-laws to stop giving him new fancy toys every time we turned around – they can do little things for Easter and Valentine’s Day, like books, but big toys are for Christmas and birthday only. 

    See, my husband essentially grew up as an only child, and as he grew up and his parents got more financially secure he got used to getting new things all the time. Unfortunately he thought he could continue that lifestyle out on his own in the world…and…well…let’s just say that didn’t end well and he brought the financial consequences of that with him when we got married. I don’t want that for my kids. I don’t want them to expect something new around every corner. I want them to be content with what they have, creative with what they have, and truly grateful when they do get new things. We’re not made of money! 

  8. Kim says:

    I hope I am teaching my children to think about how their behavior effects the world and others. We rarely buy plastic if it is not recyclable and always research who created our clothes etc. Nothing is purchased without thought to how it came to be and where it will end up. I hope they learn to think beyond themselves, we’re all in this together.

  9. NancyB says:

    While I have already raised my son (see my previous comment below), for the last 4 years I have mentored a now 9 year old boy who lives with his grandmother.
     Last week he asked me if I was rich.  Oh I hesitated with my answer believe me!  I told him we were comfortable, that we have worked for many years and are now at the point where we can buy something we really want.  That led to a conversation about school (he’s in 4th grade), how you have to work hard and how can you expect to have things if you don’t study and work to get them.  I think I’m the only person in his life who talks to him about the future – what do you want to be, what do you think you’re good at, etc. 
    I go out of my way not to buy things for him unless they are critical to something we’ll be doing together (bathing suits or snow gear) because I don’t want him to expect it and I don’t want to step on his grandmother’s toes.  We spend an afternoon a week together and usually play at my house (Legos, running around outside, playing Wii) and during the summer we take trips to amusement parks, or swimming somewhere. But I think more than anything he wants someone to spend time with him.
    This year I’m paying for the rental of a trumpet so he can take instrumental lessons at school.  I thought it was important for him to be with a group of kids that are working towards a common goal – sounding good playing together – and it would help him see learning outside his classroom.

  10. Cindy says:

    I have 3 young girls, 7, 3 and 3. I try to teach them charity, giving of themselves and about helping others who are less fortunate. We donate clothes and toys to charities, we give money to the homeless, we do what we can at this point in time. I want my girls to give back to the world. I see it in my oldest, who at 5 and every year since, decides to have a lemonade stand in the summer and a hot chocolate stand in the winter and donate the money to different causes.  She also puts some of her money into the box. She came up with that on her own, and though it isn’t much, it’s something. And I am so proud of her.

  11. Tracy says:

    Great post! This is most definitely a challenge, especially when our kids live such blessed lives. It’s great that you are working on it. My kids are teens now and I’ve noticed that it’s always a work in progress and those messages we send directly and indirectly do take root. 

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