Throughout my parenting journey, I’ve generally put value on experiences rather than stuff. I’m not fussed about having fancy furniture or cars, mostly because I’m simply not interested. Those things don’t excite me.
My friends often laugh at my lack of interest over things like a new house or new car. When it was time to buy outdoor furniture, my neighbour picked it out. When I needed new furniture for the family room, my mom and sister did the shopping and I just sent along my credit card for them to buy what they liked.
I don’t make a big deal about a broken dish or such things. Hey, it’s only “stuff”, right? Some of this lack of interest has rubbed off on my children. While my kids have certain fashion “looks” that they like (mostly defined as “comfy”), they have never asked for a certain brand or label of clothing.
While we were away for March break, a friend tried to surprise me by attempting to get some stains out of a couple of the bedroom carpets. Surprise me, she did! It turns out she used bleach as part of her cleaning concoction and as a result, I have multiple patches of bleached carpet throughout two bedrooms. My sister popped over for a visit the night we returned, so I gave her a tour of the damage.
While showing my sister around, I guess I expressed some unusual concern about the bleaching event, because my daughter pulled me aside and shared that she felt I wasn’t acting like my usual self. She reminded me that it was an accident and it’s only carpet and she and her sisters don’t mind that their carpet is splotchy.
Her sentiment impressed me and I liked that she placed so little value on the carpet. But then I thought to myself, “Hold on! I’m going to have to replace these carpets. And I’m the one who paid for them. They ARE of value”.
So it made me question – what have I been teaching my kids without realizing it? Have I raised my kids to be so un-materialistic that they don’t understand the value of anything? (Or should I not worry, because they’re not irresponsible with their belongings, so they’re clearly not too far gone?)
How much value do your children place in “things”? Has your attitude around material possessions been passed down to your kiddos? Do you have any tips on how to teach kids about money and value?
This post is wonderful. I am guilty of loving tiny designer duds (always had an obsession) and I have spent a hefty amount on clothing for my children with the intention that they will be worn for a greater amount of time then the rest. The way I see it is that if a child realizes that there is some value in objects/clothing etc then they will regard it as ‘special’ or something worthy of taking good care of and intern those things will last a lot longer.
Recently, my oldest came home from school with a hole that he bit right through his shirt – a shirt I paid $5.99 for I think. I told him that normally holes in clothing is acceptable through wear and tear but this was intentionally done so he had to pay for it himself – from his own money. Sure taught him a lesson about caring for himself and his parents who work hard for all the belongings he has.
In our home, we love self-expression and I love children being ‘children’ and yes, accidents do happen–but I think that true value must be taught. The reason they make their beds in the morning is to in a way condition them for a future of care, and respect their belongings just as much as their neighbors
I don’t think your children are unrealistic at all- to some degree I think all children are a little selfish and consumed with wanting more and well, ruining their environments without intention. Parenting in any way, is still a journey we are all learning from – any way we teach them.
I don’t think kids can really grasp things like value. They simply don’t mind a splotchy carpet, to them it’s still perfectly fine.
Great post! It is hard sometimes to teach them the sense of value. With our eldest who receives an allowance and is allowed to make small purchases he now knows how it feels when it breaks, he loses it, etc…We try to teach them that everything costs money and if we have to constantly replace the same things it takes away from the fun things we can do.
We are very much like you though when it comes to the “new” things – can’t be bothered with it!
I agree in a way, carpet is just carpet. A valued object might hold more meaning, but yes, at the end of the day we have to pay for both.