With 15 more sleeps till Christmas, I thought I would start creating a little more excitement with the kids. So I asked them to write a list of what they would like from Santa this year. I was shocked when I received lists that were full. Toys that I know would only be played with for a day or two, items that require me to try and grow some sort of money tree and well absolute junk. I realized that a number of items came from adverts that they had seen on T.V. Although they had good intentions, I stared at the list wondering where I had gone wrong. How could my children be so greedy and demanding?
I sat for a while trying to figure out why things were so different with our children as to when we were growing up. Our stockings had a few fun items, some treats and usually our stationary that we needed for the next year.
How is it that Children today have an idea that there is a never ending supply of money and that they seem to be so ungrateful compared to when we grew up?
Why is it that every time we go to the shop they expect something and if they don’t get it, they are almost shocked.
After much thought, I think I have come up with the answer. It is not that we earn that much more now than our parents or that the cost of living is cheeper. Actually if you take what our parents earned and their expenses, I think that they were probably better off.
The difference is that these days we have the money we earn, the bills we pay and the amount that we have left as “play money”, but when the play money is not enough to cover what we want or the extras that we need for the month, it is not the end of the world. Why? We have options, credit cards, retail shopping cards, loans, bonds that we can access. Yes we know that these are not the best options, but it enables us to always say yes.
The problem is that by doing our best to give our children everything that they need want and desire. We are not teaching them that money does have an end, is not something that is always available in abundance and that is ok. It does not mean that you are a failure or any less of a parent than anyone else. In fact by teaching our children financial responsibility we are doing them a huge favor. You know the old saying Money does not maketh the man. Well it is true. Money is needed, we all love it and it enables us to enjoy the finer things in life, but it does not define us. If we don’t start now education our children on the reality of finances, we will be raising a society where nothing will ever be enough. They already live in an instant society, where they do not understand the concept of waiting for something. People can be contacted 24/7, they do not have to wait till they are near a land line, bread, milk and other food items can be punched at any time day or night. There is no need to have to wait for trading hours. We can pay bills online around the clock, no more standing in a line during your lunch hour to pay your lights and water. We can draw money any time, any where. Gone are the days where you had to make sure you were at the bank between 9.00 and 3.00. Even waiting for a pastel to be delivered is no waiting game. In fact we often get annoyed if it takes more than a week to be delivered. This is all so convenient and I know that I would not like it to go back to how it used to be, but we understand patients, waiting, planning because without it, life just did not carry on. To a generation that has no idea, as they have never been exposed to it, why would we want to give them the idea that money is the same. It is here, now, when we want it. Is is not our responsibility as parents to educate our children on the reality of finances. To have the money you want, you have to start now, work hard, and be the best you can be. This will enable you to get a job, which you will have to treat with gratitude and dedication. You will commit yourself to your job, work hard and in turn you will earn the money you deserve. This will require patients and may take you years before you are earning the money that you desire, sadly your desires may have to change. You will have to learn to be financially smart, save, plan and budget. You may be able to get that car you want but it will not be possible on your first pay check.
I remember the excitement when I received something that I had been wanting forever and a day. When we were young, we did not just receive items because we asked for them, we had to wait till it was a special occasion. Birthday, Christmas, Easter or a reward at the end of the term for a fantastic report. This made the gifts so special and we treasured them and made sure that they were looked after with pride and joy. Somehow these feelings have been lost and our children will never learn what it feels like to be overwhelmed with gratitude.
Let this Christmas be our first step in empowering our children with respect, gratitude and abundant love and joy.