What Will Be Left When You Are Older?

In reading the post byย Rage Against the Minivanย about how it is time to tone down all the “holidays” a notch, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that it relates to something else that has really been bothering me.

It is this idea, this concept, this seeming need in our culture these days to have our children experience it all. As if there is some kind of ticking time clock over our heads that suggests somehow that if we don’t make sure our children have the latest electronics and play *all* the sports, and go as many places as possible that we have somehow failed.

And I get it, totally. I want nothing more than for my girls to learn how to ski. Because skiing is amazing and wonderful and fun and lots of their friends are doing it. But skiing is expensive and time-consuming and takes a tremendous amount of effort to pull off the right way. Admittedly, I want them to learn to ski in Colorado, just like I did. And so when each winter passes by without a trip there, I feel a pang of guilt and a bit of anxiety, as if my mind is saying, “There goes your shot. Again.” I then have to remind myself that my girls are nine and five. There is plenty of time left to ski. Or maybe they will never ski and that will have to be okay, too.

It has me wondering that if by age nine, my daughter already has a Kindle Fire and access to an iPad and has been to New York City twice and on and on and on, what is left for her to experience when she is older? Am I somehow setting her up for crushing disappointment when real life settles in, and she realizes that you can’t always have exactly what you want when you want it. Am I taking away her opportunity to experience the joy of growing up and having amazing opportunities come in due time? Am I robbing her of the feeling of genuinely waiting for something you really want and the excitement when you actually get it?

I remember in 8th grade there was a big dance at the end of the school year. I also remember that there was a giant controversy over whether or not the girls should be allowed to wear strapless dresses. At the end of the day, the mothers organizing the dance decided that we girls would have plenty of time left in our lives to wear strapless dresses and perhaps 8th grade is not the time for that. Of course, all of us girls protested and whined and complained and were just sure that we were old enough, mature enough, grown up enough to pull off that look. Today, I look back from the mom seat and say a silent thank you to those moms who knew best. There was plenty of time left. And we were all better off for having to wait.

See, life is full of waiting. And monotony. And routine. And missing out.

Life is full of missing out.

It seems as though we have forgotten that in our little suburban bubbles, and I think we may be missing the chance to teach it to our children.

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Maybe it really is okay to say to our children, not right now. Or no. Or perhaps next year. Or when you are older.

Maybe the short-term pain of their anger or sense of injustice and the unfairness of it all will be met with the long-term gain of their ability to be patient. To genuinely learn what it is to wait. To work hard. To really understand that in life there is something to be said for getting something all in due time.

 


Comments

What Will Be Left When You Are Older? — 148 Comments

  1. Great, great post. I have thought about this often… And have really tried to choose somethings to focus on now – things that I feel our family needs to do now bcs it’s beneficial for our bonding; and other things that I tell my kids they’ll have to resent me now and do it for themselves later. I also struggle with my littler guys being pulled into my bigger guys worlds too quickly – and certain things everyone has to wait for. But it is soooooo hard because their friends are wearing the makeup watching the R rated movies, playing the M video games, going out for dinners all the time, signed up for every sport activity, taking the expensive classes instead of the cheapy community ones. (Athough I NEVER want them to be exposed to some things but they will have to decide when they are older). When they whine and complain, I usually share that “they can have it all. Just not all now”. Life is long…. There is plenty of time to wait to do things. Don’t ruin the now by not being fully immersed in the present:)

    • I totally agree with you Leah. It is all about the balance, and I fear that we are losing it. And yes, my five year-old is definitely pulled into the big sister world more than I wish she was. Thank you so much for this excellent comment.

      • I agree with all of this in part but in some cases I think we have to be sure something wanted is a desire rather than a whim. Anna Graceman, for example, apparently wanted a piano and learned to play so now at 13 years old she is performing in Las Vegas. There are those youths which need constant supervision and guidance, as for example in Steubenville, Ohio, where in at least some cases it was lacking but I think it then falls to providing a good example and perhaps motivation to earn that which a child desires so that they associate having something with the work needed to get that thing.

  2. OH this.. this is what I am having to teach my 20 yr old. In my defense it was my mom who helped make him this way. Add in bipolar and OCD and anxiety and she would break her neck to make him ‘happy’. If he wanted a guitar today, she got it. Now he has his own son, and I am constantly telling him welcome to parenthood. He is crazy about his baby, but as easily frustrated when the baby interrupts things HE wants to do, or won’t stop fussing because he is fighting sleep. I have played mean memaw and refused to take the baby when HE wants to do something. Welcome to parenthood. It is about patience and learning to say no, and in your case the no has to be to yourself. It is about cold meals and short showers and bathroom privacy being gone..Trust me if we don’t insist NOW on teaching them then when they are 20 like mine with other issues to deal with life is hard. Really hard.

    • Amazing comment. Thank you. I do think that if we don’t learn to truly say no and not feel guilty for it, we are looking at a lot of stress down the road. I think you are definitely doing the right thing for your son by not swooping in every time he is looking for a break.

  3. Wonderful, though-provoking post. I think about this, too. I think goes along with the ‘glorification of busy’ that I have been seeing everywhere. There seems to be this sense that every moment of every day has to be planned or committed to some sort of activity – as if children have to be occupied and *experiencing* all the time. I love the idea that some things can wait – after all, what would there be to look forward to experiencing?

  4. I think this is an awesome subject. I’m not a Mother but I have observed a difference in what children are afforded these days compared to when I was a child. I had all of my needs and yes a lot of my wants, but there were just things that my parents left for me to desire. The graphic says it all…they need something to look forward to, to work for, something to take pride in…just my thoughts!

    • Yes, my parents left things for me to desire as well. All I wanted in 5th grade were Guess Jeans. My dad loved to say that he was going to buy me some jeans and let me “guess” where they came from! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I had to wait almost the entire school year to get them, but I still remember when I did. :)

  5. Well said! I think we all struggle with finding the balance between what our kids NEED and what they WANT. My boys begged and begged for an iTouch. But we put it off and put it off. They were so excited to finally get one, but we still put limits on the time they’re allowed to play. We want to take them everywhere and experience things, but try to take it slow. Family vacations are for building family, not for zipping from site to site. We’re taking them camping and hiking this summer, having some real together time.
    Let’s all slow down. We didn’t have-have-have and do-do-do when we were kids. And we turned out fine.

    • Yes. 100 million times yes. It is the need vs. want thing totally. And kids (and parents, myself included) need to learn the difference. :)

  6. Wow. This is great. I worry about that too, and my kid isn’t even 1 yet. There are so, so many things out there for him to see, that you might want to go overboard. But I loved your story about the 8th grade dance. If everyone looks like they are getting married when they are teens, how will your wedding dress be special? Waiting for moments makes them precious. Thanks.

    • Thank you so much Lynne. Love this comment…waiting for moments makes them precious…perfectly said.

    • Original article was spot-on!. Your reply excellent, too. Your comment about the wedding dress. I feel the same way about the whole Limo thing for going to the prom. I actually preferred that my boyfriend drove us to the prom in his dad’s car, and we arrived like a mature couple! The outline for my daughter’s 8th grade formal had to specify “no limo’s”, as if it were a good option for 13 year olds!!

  7. As a “hold out mom,” I really appreciate and love this post. My kids don’t have iPads or Touches or Kindle fires and didn’t even have Wii until this past year and they survived. But even as the hold out mom, I spend a lot of brain power getting caught up in what my neighbors are doing or how many times they’ve been to Disney or how many sports their kids play. In a way, as a single mom, I’ve just had to let go of a lot of that since there is only one of me to get them everywhere they need to be – which isn’t a bad thing.

    • It is hard work to be the hold out mom. And to say no. And not cave. And of course, to then not feel guilty. My children are without a Wii or Nintendo, etc. and I think they will make it! ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I agree with you that letting go of those feelings is totally the right thing to do.

  8. Wow, I love this (and the original post!)

    I don’t like the over the top nature of everything on Pinterst. Holidays, birthday parties…
    That’s not to say I don’t like celebrating things- I do! Just not with giant goodie bags and candy and presents and leprechaun traps (that’s a thing?)

    I agree that waiting for things makes them more appreciated!

    • Could not agree with you more about Pinterest adding to the insanity. It is crazy! And no, leprechaun traps are not a thing!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. I wonder the same thing. When my daughter was 4 she got a Kindle Fire. Really? Although it was a gift from a family member, I’ve always wondered if allowing our kids to experience it all will contribute to an appetite of excess, greed and ungratefulness. This post reminds me of the scripture โ€œAll things are lawful for me,โ€ but not all things are helpful. โ€œAll things are lawful for me,โ€ but I will not be enslaved by anything” (1Cor 6:12). Like you said; just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Great post.

  10. Totally think you are onto something here and I know it truly is catch 22 of sorts, because on one hand we want to give our kids everything we could, but on the other we don’t want spoil them rotten leaving them nothing to look forward. Totally can relate and so been there time and again now!

  11. I am so guilty of wanting my child to go as many places and have as many experiences as she can. She’s 3 and a half and would be perfectly content to play with her sidewalk chalk in the back yard. Sometimes I wonder who I’m doing it all for…me? her? The Jones’? I get anxiety on summer vacation as to how I’m going to “fill” all that time. Sometimes time doesn’t need to be filled.

    • Exactly. I wonder the same thing Melissa. And feel the same anxiety about summer schedules as well. And for what? My girls are fine. :)

  12. My mother always told my sisters and me to not rush everything and to keep some things till we got older. I remember when my best friend got married and was shopping for her honeymoon she was so excited that she could pick any bathing suit, even a black one because now she was all “grown up”!!! That seems to be something we are not giving our children, the gift of waiting. Thanks for the reminder!

  13. Great thought provoking post. Thank you. It’s true that I want my kids to learn how to sometimes do without. Like this spring break when their friends are in Hawaii and puerto Rico and cayman and we are at Costco.

    • So feel you sister. We spent a large part of Spring Break at Target. One of my older daughter’s friends spent it in Africa.

  14. I think its good to take things with time as well. They are children! Let them be children now and let them experience life slowly so that they can take it all in. Kids are growing up way too fast nwadays and there are so many of them out there that do not understand how important it is to wait for the right time. Everything cannot be instant gratification – we parents work hard to provide the beasic necessities for our children and should not have to feel that we have failed in some respect because we could not give them the world by the time they were 12….awesome post!

  15. Wow, does this ring true! I saw a quote a while ago that said “Please de-glorify the Super Mom.” I love this because it touches on how we, as Super Moms, Super Parents, are expected to do everything (work, trips, soccer, football, skiing, swimming, etc.) and it’s exhausting. You are so right, life is full of missing out, and that’s OK.

    • Yes. Let’s definitely do that. It is time. We need to slow down and sit back and just relax a little.

  16. First, my parents didn’t do squat for me except put a roof over my head, food in my belly and an insane drive to be successful. I didn’t get the rainbow assortment of Izod’s when they were the thing in the 6th grade and we didn’t go anywhere for spring or summer break. Instead, for summer, I was schleped off to my Aunt’s house in Baltimore where I sat around and read. And you know what – I survived. And later, when I moved out to Vail and skied for the first time, I loved it.

    I look at my friends who overindulge their kids (and that’s what it is – you tell me one kid that needs or deserves a kindle or an iPad) and wonder exactly what you have just said. How are they ever going to live up to this later and what kind of “realistic” world are their kids going to be confronted with? The other thing that terrifies me is that this is the generation that will be “taking care” of us as elders.

    I give my kids what I can and honestly, I’ve gotten to the point where I refuse to do more because they don’t appreciate it. We’re not paupers but we’re not rolling in the dough either and nothing chaps my tail more than seeing said kindle laying in the middle of the floor. This generation expects it and the insecurity of the parents to “keep up” feeds it. It’s a bad combination.

    • Your last part really resonated with me. I cannot tell you the rage I feel when my girls can’t find the Kindle and barely seem bothered enough to look for it. It honestly makes me mental. I definitely feel like the lack of appreciation really bothers me, too.

  17. This hit so close to my heart. I’ve had this belief since my son was born, and we couldn’t really afford to do ALL THE THINGS anyway. I’d see so many kids with this and that new toy, kids that were 3 or 4 and going out of the country with parents on vacation and going to every single kids concert (and sometimes REAL concerts). I felt as if I might be doing a disservice to my kids by not letting them experience these things as well. Now that he’s 7, and his friends are running around with iPhones, iPads, and still going on those out-of-country vacations, I don’t feel so bad. Those kids seem to not be excited about the little things like my boy. A small “staycation” for us yields lots of thank yous from our son, because it’s still an adventure to him. I want him to always be excited for new experiences, so I won’t sweat when he will have them. He’ll have them when it’s his time.

    • Nothing makes me happier than genuine appreciation and delight in something small from my children. Thank you for this comment. I love it. :)

    • What a great comment and SO TRUE! It’s even harder when it’s family who give & do everything for their kids whereas, our kids are happy just being with us.
      We have different priorities then them and sometimes, probably indirectly, make me feel like we don’t do enough. That feeling usually lasts about 10 minutes and then we head off to a park or for a walk and our little unit is happy!

  18. Well said! There is greatness and power in teaching our kids the value of wait. It is not easy for us to make them wait (we don’t like to see them disappointed or hurt or upset), but then we have to reflect on what waiting teaches us. Sometimes we have to work hard for what we want, not have it handed to us on a platter. Sometimes we have to wait because we aren’t ready to handle the responsibility. Sometimes we have to wait simply because there is no funds to do it. Sometimes even no is needed because it is not what is best for us. And all those times, when I look back and reflect, that I had to wait, when I had to earn it myself, when I had to work for it…Those are the times and the things that I can look back on with pride and the things I value most. Not only did I learn patience, but I learned so much more! Yes, there is time for so many things – don’t rush growing up…You are a grown up for far too long. And always remember: You don’t learn when it is done for you or handed to you the instant you want it. You don’t learn value or respect or longing or anticipation. Sure, you have the immediate gratification stuff down, but you lose so much more than you gain!

    • Oh, and I just wanted to add this: We did go on vacations when I was growing up, but no where really expensive or fancy because we couldn’t afford it. I had friends that were going to Disney World and all that, but you know what? They used to tell me that they were jealous of my family! Seriously! You know why? Because it wasn’t about the expense in my family, it was about the time. Not that I’m saying if you take your kids to Disney or something that you don’t spend quality time or anything like that, it was just the comment that was made.

      The thing of it is this: Our kids need our time, our love and our instruction, not our money or the next latest and greatest. Sure, we want to spoil them and let them have those things out of love, but sometimes the greater love is to have them wait for it.

      Anyway, I think I’m done now. Thanks again for this post, ladies! It’s so very true!

  19. When I think about myself as a kid, as I’m sure we all do, and compare it to kids today it’s highly frightening to think about how this will all end up and what our children’s children will be like! Or..it will all somehow turn out ok. We’ll get back the attention spans we used to have (ok, I used to have) like when a book and sunshine and maybe a friend or two would carry me through a whole day. I shudder to think about electronics and how they will be even more advanced!

    And of course, my daughter has already been to California twice by two years old and I didn’t get there until 24! Luckily the world is full of enough experiences and enough places that it’s ok to pick and choose the really, really important ones for our kids, and then just know they’ll take the reins themselves someday.

  20. What a great post, and so true. I never learned to ski, but I still have time. I am sure I am destined to break my leg in the process of eventually learning! My oldest daughter always says “no fair” or “but so and so gets to” etc. while I hate having to say no sometimes, I think it’s a great character builder for them. They learn disappointment, learn the world isn’t going to end because of it, and learn how to carry themselves after it. They also learn over time that maybe that “most important thing ever” really wasn’t that important in the long run, but also that if they want something bad enough, they will fight to get it one way or another. (Which is a tough phase, but a good one) Have a great day ladies!!

    • Your last sentence is SO TRUE. They definitely learn what is truly important and what is just a flash in the pan desire! Love that!!

  21. I can’t give my kids all that they want they need something to work hard for. I don’t believe we should give people what they want because there are those who work hard for what they have and hard work does pay off. My mom was strict on me as a kid I only got one thing on my Christmas list. Great post

  22. We are in the same boat with skiing! My parents set the bar kind of high – my sister and I were both on skis at 2. So every year that goes by (my tiny humans are now 3 and 5) I feel like we’re depriving them of an important life experience. But you’re so right – it is expensive and time consuming to do it right! So we wait. Now I feel more okay about it, so thank you. :) Also, kudos to the mamas who stood up to your eighth grade selves. Remembering MY eighth grade self, I bet that was a tough one.

    • Oh, I am sure our moms had an uphill battle with our 8th grade selves, but I am glad they stuck to their guns. I definitely think the skiing thing is hardest for me to swallow, but I have to just suck it up and deal. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. This is so real.
    As a mother I often want my children to have and experience what I couldn’t, however I also have to think that I grew up just fine the way my parents raised me. And while I didn’t understand all of my parents’ “No” answers when I was a child, I am fully aware and certainly thankful for them now that I am a parent.
    Just because technology and life seems to be advancing faster than ever doesn’t mean our children should be growing up so quickly along with all that.
    I appreciate your dose of reality. I wish more parents would see it this way, too.
    Stopping by from TheSITSgirls. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. So well said, Ladies! We are so in to instant gratification and having all the “stuff” as soon as it comes out. We are doing our kids a real disservice to never let them feel disappointment. Last year I had the ability to send my daughter to horse camp for a week. She loved it! This year it isn’t going to happen. I was actually afraid to tell her because of her disappointment. When I brought it up she looked sad, but she said, “It’s OK, Mommy. I understand. I’m glad I got to go last year and maybe I’ll go again another time.” She’s a step ahead of me sometimes.

    • Love her reaction Rabia. That is when you definitely know that you are doing right by her. Well done. :)

  25. I think it’s ok to pull back the reign of having it all. We appreciate things because we weren’t given everything and that’s what children need – to learn to be appreciative of even the simplest things like a school dance. They are so tuned into social media and seeing how everyone online has everything, they have to be unplugged sometimes so that they appreciate it when they get their devices back. We have a rule in my home – no device use for more than 2 hours whether it’s video games, computers, etc. After that, they have to find something outside or indoors to do and use their imagination. Better believe that when they have their next 2 hours, they are soooo looking forward to using their devices and usually make better choices because they don’t have a lot of time.

    • LOVE this policy so much that I am immediately adopting it for my own home. That is perfect. Thank you so much!

  26. Well this sheds some light on why you were so excited to wear a strapless dress in my wedding! :)

    I completely agree, however when it comes to travel and learning to appreciate how the world works outside of our bubble (and I don’t mean Disney….) I will try to indulge as much as possible, but as for the American Girl Doll… it can wait!

    • LOL! It was worth the wait! :)
      Oh yes, as far as traveling goes…I will do as much as we can, because I definitely think that is what kids remember. :)

      • Yes, yes, THIS! As I was reading along in the comments, I was thinking about how, for the most part, I agree with what people are saying about excess and things and too much this and too much that…but I kept feeling my heart tug when it comes to travel. Now, yes, true, I am biased here, because travel is a very important thing to ME, but I can honestly say that when I think back to “Memories from the Big Box of Childhood,” much of what comes to the forefront has to do with traveling with my parents.

        I would sacrifice a Wii, Nintendo, Kindle, iPhone, etc. for both my son and myself in exchange for a trip, anywhere anytime.

  27. Oh what a great post!! My kids have had so many more experiences than I had at their age (travel wise, electronic wise, and yes even skiing wise). We are very fortunate in that there are mountains near our house where we could get season passes for really cheap when the kids were little and that is where they learned and we skiied every single weekend!
    I think the bottom line is how we present things. We use hand me down equipment and buy at the ski swap…very rarely does anyone get anything new. And why do we need new? I agree with you, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Many of their friends have tvs in their rooms…that makes no sense to me. Granted they turn their computers and iPads into tvs anyway, but once again it’s just one of those things that isn’t necessary in my opinion. Now that they are older, I am trying to instill in them, if they want something they can save up and buy it themselves. They need to learn the value of the $ and making some decisions about what they actually want to spend money on. The last thing I want to do is raise kids who expect the world to be handed to them on a platter. Thanks for a thought provoking post…I will share!

    • Thank you so much for this excellent comment Michelle. I think you are definitely approaching things like skiing the right way. Well done. :)

  28. I totally think you should bring the girls to Colorado to learn to ski! But, that is just selfish thinking on my part, because it would be fun to watch them ski. But it is expensive, I only went once this year and I have all the equipment. The “discounted” lift ticket was $84. But if you can make it work, we’d love to have you out here.

    • It is definitely on my goal list, I will tell you that! :) But it is pricey! Our next big vacay will most definitely be out there!

  29. You are absolutely right. There is nothing wrong with not getting everything you want. Sometimes you appreciate it more if you have to wait or you have to earn it. And sometimes you just don’t get it, that’s the way it goes. Builds character.

  30. Fabulous post! I wonder the same things. My ex is very into doing All The Things with the kids – every weekend he has them, there’s a mega-outing. The zoo! A parade! A concert! A baseball game! No, these are not individual outings – he routinely does that many things all in the same day. It creates this sense of entitlement, that they should be entertained all the time, that every activity Must Be Done. But when everything is special, nothing is special. This seems to be coming full circle, because when the kids are with me, they want to do “nothing,” which means hanging out near home doing whatever seems appealing at the time. I completely agree with you on this post – you really hit the nail on the head.

    • When I am away on a girl’s weekend my hubby actually has the tendency to do that, too. I find it annoying…and expensive. And this sentence “But when everything is special, nothing is special.” is one of my favorites ever.

  31. This really resonates with me. I think we are denying our children both the simple pleasures in life and the opportunity to grow into experiences as they get older. Re Melissa’s comment – I agree that our children are often content to play with sidewalk chalk (or something similar), yet we feel the need to fill their time with organized activities. Why? In my view what children really need is a relaxed family that does fun activities together, time to explore their interests and aptitudes, and even time to be a little bit bored (every moment doesn’t have to be filled with activity!).

    • Yes, this comment times a million. I found last week during our “staycation” for Spring Break that the times that we had the MOST fun were when we were outside playing. Period. That was free, by the way! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Wow, you really struck a nerve with this post! My mailbox keeps filling up with all of the comments!

        Just want to confess that my kids are college age and up, and we have never taken them to Disney World. And it’s not like we live in Kansas or something – we could drive to Orlando in 8 hours. This makes me feel guilty/inadequate/uncool at times, but as my husband likes to point out, “Did they ever beg, or really even ask, to go to Disney World.” Well, no. Anyway, they are now college students and young adults and are perfectly normal, happy and functional, so I guess we didn’t scar them for life! We also held out on TVs and computers in the bedroom until very late in the teen years. And we didn’t have them in 45 different sports and activities, all at the same time. And we ate dinner together as a family at least 5 nights a week.

        Whew, glad to get all of those bad-mom confessions off my chest!

  32. {Melinda} I love this post. I so agree. I indulged my kids too much when they were younger and I regret it. For the past 5 years I’ve been trying to undo some of the “entitlement mentality.” If we don’t have to wait for or earn something, we just don’t value it as much. That’s human nature. I’ve found my kids are much more grateful since they’ve not had so much handed to them. Doesn’t make sense, does it? But that’s the way it works.

    • I really think it is my goal this summer to undo some of this same mentality. I think we are really going to buckle down and remember that there is fun in simply coloring. Or playing dress-up. And that “stuff” is not a right…it is a privilege. Thank you Melinda.

  33. I feel the EXACT same way about skiing. Every once in a while I panic, because my five year old hasn’t been on the slopes yet. When I see pictures of my nephew on the mountain I feel guilty and wonder if I should go back to work so we can afford to give our children those experiences.

    Most of the time I am content with the choices our family has made, but not always. That’s not all bad, as long as it’s healthy self-reflection, and not crippling doubt.

    GREAT POST!!!

    • It is the crippling self-doubt that gets us every time, right? I think it is hard in this day and age to buck the system, but is it worth it to stand firm about what is truly best for your own family.

  34. YES! YES! YES! This is what makes parenting these days so hard. It’s not the only thing but it’s a big one. I am a parent that says no more than yes. I’d love to say it’s because I thought about wanting them to experience things when they are older and while I do believe that. Mine was/is more from I just don’t want them to do certain things yet: stay out til midnight, have a phone at 10, walk around in the downtown area of our town at 11, take the train to downtown Chicago at 14, go somewhere on a plane by themselves at 11 or 14 and on and on. I’m not saying it should be that way for everyone that is 11 and 14 but it is the right way for me and my 14-year-old and my 11-year-olds. I think I say about 100 tines a week to my kids, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” so when I saw this quote, I fell in love with you two a little more! I wish we were raising our kids alongside of each other so we could stand firm together. :)

    • I say no more than yes, too. And still I feel like I am saying yes too much! And oh Gosh, how perfect that you say this, too! We are totally meant to all be friends!! :)

  35. Great post! I struggled with the same thing with Austin, and we did not have all the distractions of electronics – well, some of them, but not the phones, tablets, etc. I did only allow one sport at a time – and he could choose the sport – but I as not going to be one of those moms who lived in the car, on the ball field, in the gym, sitting and waiting and only having fast food. I also remember on rainy days having “carpet picnics” with Austin – it is one of our favorite memories of those rainy days. Instead of plopping in front of the tv all day, we would create our outdoors indoors. I vote for skiing in Colorado – let’s find something cheap – and we will meet you out there!!

    • Skiing is definitely on my goal list for next year, but we will just have to see how good of a deal we can score! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I definitely think the one sport at a time is a good rule to follow. :)

  36. I am so not envious of people my age with younger children. It just seems so competitive to be a mommy now. Or maybe in my 20s and30s when I was raising my kids I just didn’t notice. Yes, I still habe a 17 year old at home. And yes, I still feel guilty, bad, whatever when I can’t give him things. But at the same time I get hugs over a box of donuts because he knows that I was thinking about him. There are pros and cons to everything. Would I feel the sme way if I had the money to give/get him everything. I’m not sure but we’re happy and that’s all that matters.

    And you’re right, maybe he’ll get to experience some of the things when he’s older.

    • I honestly think that it is getting harder with this generation of kids…and I think they are surrounded by a lot of excess, which adds to it. Love that you get hugs for donuts! Nothing is better than that kind of moment. :)

  37. My Mom never let me sleep out after school dances. “Wait until your prom. Then it will be special.” It drove me crazy. But, she was right. And it was. My friends all got brand new cars for their 16th birthdays. I knew better than to expect a car. My parents expected me to earn a car the money for a car if I wanted one. Nothing felt better than using my first paycheck from my first real job to make my first payment on my first brand new car.

    These are the types of lessons I hope to teach my kids. Love this post.

    • I love that your mom did that for you, and I love that you could see that she was right. :) My mom used to do stuff like that, too, and it really taught me a lot.

  38. This is such a beautiful post. So wise, and so full of perspective. I really struggle with the fact that clarity for me usually comes with hindsight, and in the moment, I feel polarized, “Should we be worried about this? Is this going to be important in ten years?” And you bring up such great points about the value of just waiting. Hard not to feel pressured and rushed in the world we live in.

    • Most of my clarity comes in hindsight as well. You are definitely not alone there. :) I do like the idea of really thinking about whether something will truly matter in five years, ten years, etc. Most of the time the answer is no.

  39. Written like a true mother! I think that all good parents have a little bit of guilt about what we aren’t able to provide for our children. I have great anxiety that my daughter is almost 3 and I’ve only taught her simple words in Spanish and if I stayed in my home state of CA she would be further along. That may be true or untrue but I can only do what I can do. That may not be the best example, but it just goes to show that we (at least I) have a hard time acccepting that I’m doing well juggling all of my many duties and I need to allow time for my baby girl to live her on life and enjoy what she does have. Back in college my professor and I had an entire discussion on how we see celebrities with 4 and 5 homes and yet it’s expected for them to only have one mate? Haaaa!!! Over indulgence is a huge problem that despite what people think, impacts us in many ways. I personally feel like marriages, child rearing, narcissism are just a few. Whew. I’m stepping off my soap box. Great, great post.

  40. Awww I love this post! I have similar thoughts myself and I don’t even have kids yet! I feel it for myself and my future and freak out and think I need to do this NOW! And then realize that it doesn’t have to be immediately.

    Also, I don’t think you are setting your kids up for disappointment. While I do agree with you wholeheartedly that it’s okay to say no to your kids and let them wait to experience things at more appropriate ages, I think your kids will cherish the vacations and trips that you did take.

    And no matter what, there will always be SOMETHING that they didn’t get, or some trip they didn’t get to go on, etc.. I’m still sad I never got an American Girl doll when I was younger, but I totally understand why I didn’t get one and now it’s just funny to joke about.

    • Thank you Tara. This comment made me smile. :) I am still a little annoyed that I was not allowed to have a pet rabbit! ๐Ÿ˜‰
      I do think that trips and experiences will matter a lot more than stuff. And I need to remember that.

  41. I liked reading this post. I don’t have children yet, but I have many friends with kiddos and I feel like everyone is just growing up too fast. They know how to use my cell phone better than I do, yet they can’t reach the kitchen counter. It blows my mind!

    • It is amazing to me how well my 5 year-old can navigate the iPad. Seriously, she is a pro. And yes, everyone is growing up way too fast.

  42. Yes! Love it, so perfectly put.
    I tell me kids No a lot, and it bugs the crap out of my in-laws & my husband. If they never hear No, if they never have to wait, if they try every and see everything and get everything RIGHT NOW, what will they learn from that? Yearning teaches appreciation. Waiting teaches patience. Earning teaches value.
    I might be going to Europe this year for the first time, at age 37. I am beyond tickled, and as giddy as a girl who finally was allowed to wear lipgloss for the first time.

    • Oh my Gosh, this totally gave me lipgloss memory flashbacks…I completely remember when I was FINALLY allowed to wear it! :)
      I love this part of your comment: Yearning teaches appreciation. Waiting teaches patience. Earning teaches value.
      Exactly.

  43. I’m with you, except in skiing. When I think of skiing all I think of is expense and piles of gear and COLD. But obviously people love it. This is really wise, and to the people who may comment that life is too short, that it’s so uncertain, I argue that if we lose someone early, we will never, no matter how much we’ve done for or with them, think, “I am satisfied that we did enough, that we spent enough quality time together.”

    • Nodding my head so hard my neck hurts. Especially to your last sentence. Yes, a million times, yes.

  44. I’m so glad I read this. There are so many things my children haven been able to do that I wasn’t at their age… and then there are the things I did and they haven’t…coincidentally, skiing is one of them… its something I enjoyed with my father and he started with them, but our move south has made it virtually impossible to continue and I feel guilty… and then there are the things that because I’m a single working mom I’m too tired or overwhelmed or just can’t do. I need to remember there is still plenty of time!

    • Great comment. Thank you. There is still plenty of time. I have to remind myself of that constantly.

  45. Yes! I loved this, ladies. I think we push our kiddos so hard in this world. I try to keep reminding myself that just because something is good, it doesn’t mean it’s good for us. Thanks for reinforcing this.

  46. As both a mother and a teacher, this definitely resonates with me. I tell my kids “No” or “Let’s wait” constantly, because, as a middle school teacher, I can tell you, there is nothing worse than a world-weary 14 year old who has seen it all and done it all. I want to preserve that sense of wonder in my children, and when you say “yes” to everything, there is nothing left to wonder about. Also, hopes and dreams are what makes life good. If you have nothing to wish for, what’s the point?

    • I love this comment Amy. I especially love the idea that when we say yes all the time we are robbing them of the sense of wonder. So well said.

  47. I whole-heartedly agree, Ashley. I think it’s part of our generation, and part of our society who believes that we “deserve” every good thing out there. And that, if everyone doesn’t have or get to do the same things as everyone else, that they are unfortunate, or neglected. As a mom, I love being able to give my children great experiences, but I often wonder if by doing so, I’m setting them up for disappointment. I think smaller disappointments along the way help everyone to see life in perspective. And that, the harder you work for something, the longer you wait for something, makes every experience that much sweeter. Great post, friend.

    • I do think there is a level of expecting and feeling that we deserve it all. You are so right. I think my takeaway so far from all of these amazing comments is that experiences are good…but maybe I need to tone down on the “stuff”!

  48. So true! Mine is almost 2 and it’s a constant struggle to remind myself that he has plenty of time. To keep myself in check, I try to always do the outdoor stuff because it seems like you can do that for your entire lifetime. Parks, camping, etc. It’s a struggle though – we live less than 2 hours from Disney. And so far, he has no idea who Mickey Mouse is…

    • Oh my Gosh, you will be so glad to wait on Disney, I think. And I totally agree with you about doing the stuff that you can do for your whole life. Well said.

  49. We are all such kindred spirits!! I bought the kids Leappads this year and really struggled with it, because I believe in free play and not over-stimulating. But I keep it for (my) emergencies, haha. My oldest is starting with baseball this summer, at 5, and it’s his first sport! He’s such a natural with it. I keep saying every year I’m going to get them skiing, and, before you know it, winter’s over and the snow is gone. Next year it’s happening!

    • Great comment Erin! I think the over-stimulation is really apparent with all the devices these days. And it drives me bonkers! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  50. This has got to be one of my favorite posts here so far! You already have so many great comments but I felt like I had to comment too. I think it’s probably hardest to make children wait for things when you CAN give them to them. When you can’t, it’s just the “way it is”. In that way, sometimes it feels like a blessing when we just can’t, I guess it’s the lazy way out, but at least the decision is made – if we can’t, we can’t. Oh well.

    But I agree with you and so many other posters here, leaving nothing to look forward to is just leading to greed, boredom, discontent, and entitlement. It also robs children of the feeling of “finally” getting something or getting to do something. It also robs them of dealing with disappointment and of earning things for themselves.

    Great post.

    • I do think it is easier when you simply cannot do it. We struggle (as does probably all of America at this point) that we used to be able to do more, but times are tougher now. And while I know that is fine (there is nothing I can do about it), it is still hard. Thank you for this comment. I loved your last paragraph.

  51. Great entry, and I agree with lots of your points. Of course, the lesson of waiting for or earning something is a valuable one. And I am sure we can all look at different things we have done for our own kids and think, “Wow. Did I really just do that?” I am guilty. However, I also think it’s I important to live for today and have priorities. I am sure there are kids who look at others (including my daughter!) and think, “Wow! She gets to do/have everything!” Maybe it’s just different priorities, and that’s what I tell my daughter all the time. We go on the occasional over-the-top kid-friendly trip, but the shorts she wears to soccer practice come from Target or even Walmart, and she goes to Target and soccer practice in a Honda. I don’t care what kind of car I drive, but I do think it’s important (to me) to show her the world and let her know she can move around it completely on her own. I have wanderlust, and whether it’s good or not, I want her to want to see more too.

    When my dad was dying with pancreatic cancer in 2006, he told me repeatedly to “live for today and plan for tomorrow”. I try to do that, and I try
    to teach that to my daughter. Yeah, we may go to Los Angeles for Spring Break, but we buy bus passes and get around the city that way instead of hiring a car or taxis to take us everywhere. We meet people from ALL walks of life on the city bus in LA, because I talk to everybody I see. The deaf girl on the 3rd row of the bus going to Santa Monica Pier? Yep, we talked (in sign language!) with her. Did my daughter learn from that? You bet! And I did too! Would she meet the same people in Charlotte? Would she visit the same museums in Charlotte? Probably not in our little suburban bubble.

    So yes, maybe sometimes we all do too much for our kids too soon, but as long as we turn it into a valuable, life experience, I think it’s OK. Sure, make them wait a while to see/do/have things/experiences, but when you do, make it matter!

    • Love your comment Kelly, especially because you are exposing your sweet girl to amazing opportunities while also teaching her about the world at large…the REAL world. My mom did a good job of that with my sister and me and I believe it genuinely shaped us in the best ways.
      As someone who drives a less than fancy minivan, I hear you! :)

  52. What an amazing post! I am always super aware of wether or not I am giving my kids “too much” My mom gave me everything and more as a single parent yet, I don’t expect the world now….I don’t know how she had that incredible balance with me but I hope to have it with my children. I am never cheap with my hugs and kisses and giggles and impromptu dancing because I know their childhood is formed on those moments. The extra stuff is hit or miss for me…I can go on and on :)

    • Love the end of your comment…I am never cheap with those things either….and you are right, they are the moments that form the memories! :) Thank you Nellie!

    • It is hard not to do. Because even if you are trying not to, you still find yourself doing things and thinking, “Wow, was that really necessary??!!”

  53. This is a beautiful post. As my grandma used to say, “When you have everything, it’s easy for it to mean nothing.” I think of that every day. She would love this post. I’ll have to print it out to send it to her since she thinks computers are a “fad”.

    • I will not even lie, I am totally printing out what your grandma said and carrying it around in my wallet.
      And I laughed out loud at computers being a fad! :)

  54. I came over for my daily dose of funny, and found this. This wonderful reminder to slow down. Let the kids be just what they are and to allow room to grow up. Love the graphicโ€ฆI might just have to frame it and put it up in the toddlerโ€™s room!

    • Sorry that we weren’t funny today! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Feel free to use the graphic! :) Am glad you enjoyed our turn towards the more serious.

  55. Amen! Why do we stress out about all these extra activities and experiences? We need to slow things down and just enjoy life. Our kids are happier keeping it simple anyway, aren’t they?

    • Definitely! Volunteering is such a good way to not only use their time, but also teach them about the world around them. :)

  56. ABSOLUTELY truth here. We are such a culture of GIVE THEM EVERYTHING!! We are cultivating spoiled empowered children…inadvertently. I see kids with iphones who are NINE. The trains keeps going faster and faster with top speed momentum to do it all and give it all as kids become increasingly addicted to HAVING it all. Not. Good.

    • Yes, yes, yes, a million times yes to this comment. Could not have said it better!! Thank you Chris! :)

  57. Great post. I read something recently about how kids need to know boredom in order to trigger their imagination and creativity. I’ve noticed that with my daughter. If I can get her beyond that “I’m booored” whining phase, she often comes up with the activities that engage her the longest.

    I didn’t learn to ski until I was in 8th grade and I turned out Ok. Mostly. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • That is so true. When my girls can get past complaining about their boredom (which usually happens after I threaten to throw away all their toys), they always find something to do that they love. :)

  58. Excellent post and very accurate observations. Two brief thoughts – 1) you are absolutely right, one doesn’t have to experience all the “big” things at young ages; but please teach the young ones to really enjoy and appreciate all the “little” things they can get out of life every day; and 2) planning for something “big” is half the fun – which is a skill you really learn as you get older – so make sure they “live in the moment,” but always keep an eye on the future.

    Love,

    Dad

  59. I learned how to ski in Courcheval,France. OH, how spoiled I was! I was on the pristine slopes of some of the wolds best ski resorts in the Three Valley’s (Or the Trois Valles if you want me to be really hoity toity). I had my own private French ski instructor and everything.
    And I was 22. Yep, never skied until then and you know what- it was awesome. I didn’t feel cheated or like I had been missing out all those years. I appreciated that I had this opportunity and loved every minute of it.
    Right now I am in the mommy guilt throes of not having enrolled my daughter in ballet or gymnastics or music class as a majority of her friends and cousins are. This makes me take a REAL look at how it’s affecting her- which is to say, not at all. So, I am NOT going to enroll her to make ME feel better. Except for swim classes. Because I’d prefer she not drown.

    • Couldn’t pink puffy heart your comment more if I tried! I love every single thing about it. But mostly what I loved was this: This makes me take a REAL look at how itโ€™s affecting her- which is to say, not at all. So, I am NOT going to enroll her to make ME feel better.
      Because, yes, yes, yes.

  60. I love this! It’s so true! My husband laughed at me for wanting to buy our family a touch-screen device at Christmas (we bought a Nook tablet) because I thought our kids should be able to use a touch screen. (I really wanted it for me!) Since we bought it for the entire family, though, we’ve had to learn how to share it. That’s been a great lesson for all of us! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • We have a family iPad. It is perfect. It is enough. We do have to share (my hubby never gets a turn, poor guy!) but that is okay. And I agree about it being a good way to learn that! :)

  61. Thank you for this post, I am going to start following your page. I am glad to see I am not the only stick in the mud mom. I have several friends who do the big birthday every year, or twice a year several day visits to Disney world. I just think, if you go all out all the time what do your children have to look forward too. Kids are like little fun addicts, they want things to be bigger and more special all the time and if we teach them that Disney world is real life, real life is going to be quite a let down. I’d rather start small and make our own fun with chalk in the back yard. See the book “Generation Text” for more about this phenomenon and how t give our kids what they need to fit in without giving them everything that the instant gratification generation has available. It seems like it is about technology, but it really is more about how to slow our kids down without holding them back.

    • Am off to look up that book right now, thank you! :) So glad you read and took the time to comment. Welcome! :) Could not agree with you more about the people who do big stuff all year long…besides the fact that I always wonder HOW, I also wonder WHY?!

  62. {Kathy} Yes! Everything can wait. Waiting is always better than rushing.
    I listened intently to a conversation on, wait for it……taking small kids to Europe or not. Really? I did not think people really ever debated on such things, but alas there was a whole bleacher full of parents talking about the pros and cons. What? If you have the gumption to insist that taking small kids to Europe for vacation is a good idea for their “cultural learning” experiences, I must be a real louse for not even considering that thought. At. All. The last time I checked international travel was a luxury.

    • I honestly wish I could say I was surprised Kathy, but sadly I really am not. :( Truly, the last place young children need to be taken is Europe. Wait until they are old enough to even actually remember it!!

  63. Absolutely LOVE this post. I remember being upset on so many occasions when my parents won’t let me do something…but now I realize they were right to do so. I look at teens these days and wonder what could possibly be new to them. Not much probably.

    • Could not agree more Xae! It seems like there will be nothing new to them anymore. And that is really sad.

  64. Add my voice to the chorus of YESSES! I grew up on a farm, in a comfortable household, not at all extravagant. I think my parents sacrificed a LOT so that we could have some experiences and things that they felt were important, though they never let on at how hard it was.

    At this point in my life I expected things to be easier financially, but they are NOT. We are not able to provide things for my kids (their “wants” – they have all they NEED) that I had. Like a third car for their use. Or “just” a trip to see NYC. (I feel no such obligation to make sure they go to Disney.) And yet we live in a largely affluent suburb, where kids have their own cars that are newer and nicer than what I currently drive, they go to other countries for Spring break, they seem to want for nothing. Our kids see their friends experience this luxury and wonder why we can’t provide the same. I wrestle with how to explain this reality in a way that won’t make them feel embarrassed or ashamed. I HOPE what happens is they focus on finding their own success so they can obtain things they want for themselves.

    • So, I could have written this exact comment Meg. Especially the last paragraph. Word for word honestly. Times used to be easier and now they aren’t. And I get exactly what you are saying. It is hard.

  65. What a great post! In due time… I totally agree. Most of the electronics stuff came out after my kids were out of high school but I tend to believe that they shouldn’t get those things until they can be responsible for them. As far as trips go… if you can afford it, go for it. Just don’t over do it. Make them appreciate what they have.

    • I’ll be honest with you…at this very moment somewhere in our home is the Kindle Fire. Neither of my two children can seem to remember where it is. Nor do they seem bothered by this. The irony in light of the timing of this post is not lost on me.

  66. I am probably much older than the Moms commenting here. My oldest daughter recently brought this subject up and it fits right in. Why do babies and young girls have to wear bikini bathing suits? Why do their clothes have to look like an adults?My daughters were not allowed to wear bikinis until Jr high or high school ( I think ). They would beg and beg and I would say not until you are older. We didn’t have a computer in the house until some teachers started asking for neatly typed reports. Any “designer” clothing came from the sale rack. Now here I am going to mention the three letter word – sex. I told all three of my girls that they were special, their bodies were special and they should not allow something they barely know to touch them in that way . They should wait until they found that person that they were in love with and that loved them. Sex was for grown-ups and they should wait until then. I am proud to say that they all waited. They all have asked me how I managed to do that. Well, it really was them. As a nation, we have allowed the sexualization of our children. Shame on us all for permitting this to happen. Too much, too soon.

    • Well said Becca. Lisa and I were talking the other day about how when we were growing and shows had teenagers having sex it was always on a “very special episode of….” meaning it was NOT the norm. Sadly, that is no longer the case. Thank you for this excellent comment.

  67. I think about this all of the time. I see my friends and neighbors taking their kids on trips to places my parents wouldn’t have been able to afford to take themselves on now. And I think, “I hate taking my kids anywhere at this point. Why bother spending the time and money on something that won’t be fun for me and that the kids won’t remember or appreciate?”

    I didn’t go out of the country until I graduated from high school. I didn’t go to New York City until I was 24. And both of those were on my dime. And you know what? I appreciate it and love it every time I get to go anywhere.

    We took the kids to Myrtle Beach for a few days earlier this week. On the drive home, the six-year-old asked where we were going next. It made me mad. And then I started singing that P!nk song, “I’m Not Here for your Entertainment.” Because I’m not.

    • Oh yes. Pretty much everything we do is met with that question. And like you, I am sick of it. It makes me want to do nothing.

  68. I don’t have kids, but have plenty of nieces and nephews and they have all the latest gadgets and gizmos at age 3 and 9yrs when I’m only getting the SAME gadgets aged 29+2 ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Tree houses and swing ball are what I used to play with but now the small kids I know are just staying in the house playing with electronics. I’m feeling really old now like an old lady who says “Now when I was a young lass…”

  69. Love that quote!
    That is how I feel about Barbies, and ear piercing, and wearing make up for my little girl. So many people in our family wondered why her ears weren’t pierced when she was a baby — she has plenty of time for that when she is old enough to decide for herself and take care of them properly. I don’t think she needs to wear make up when playing dress up at age 5, and I want her to play baby dolls as long as possible — sometimes I think we encourage our kids to grow up way too fast.
    Pinning that quote!

  70. This is such a great post. We have yet to take our kids to Disney and some people look at us like we’re crazy but we’re just not going yet. Maybe when they are older and will remember it more and when they are even older they can complain about how long we made them wait.

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