Do you think a rich life is associated with being wealthy or influence?
Well, not exactly true. A person can be poor and yet they live a fulfilling life – almost like they are rich. There are people who are wealthy and influential and yet, they seems to be struggling in their life journey. Giving your child a rich life, is more about the quality of life and the great experience we gained along the journey, instead of the monetary benefits we gained in life.
As parents, we want to give our children the best but in our society, where with increasing affluence, we tend to want more things now. It can easily crossed over to raising children who feel entitled to things. Values such as hard work, patience, accountability and responsibility may get eroded as children feel that they deserve things just because they want them.
On the other hand, we don’t want to raise children who feel they do not deserve to have good things in life – physical, emotional and spiritual. Here are 8 parenting tips to give your child a rich life, where they feel empowered but not entitled to the good things in life.
#1 Don’t Give Possessions because You Can’t Give Time
We, sometimes feel guilty that we spend too much time in office and too little at home with our children. The first time we feel guilty, we may buy a gift to compensate or a toy so that our child can play (and hopefully not mind our absence). By continuously getting toys to compensate the time and bond loss, we are sending out the wrong signal to our child. They might start to feel entitled to have toys, gadgets and presents as and when they like. Instead, a better way is to prioritize your time – Can you come home earlier to spend time with your child (at least once a week)? Or can at least one parent be around when your child is awake and active? Can you set up weekday board game time, limited to board games that can be completed sooner (not monopoly!). With more time spent with your child, both you and your child will focus more on being present for each other, more than on the presents!
#2 Don’t Give NOW
If your child’s birthday is round the corner, there’s nothing wrong with buying him something he or she likes. The problem is when our child starts demanding to want things NOW. (But OOPS, we have given in last week to our child’s demands because we felt bad not spending enough time with her.)
We may start to feel poorly about ourselves for giving in and decide to be harsher this time round by scolding our child for being greedy (money don’t grow on trees!) or bribing our child to behave and he will get it at the end of the day. Both of these approaches are not ideal, instead, let your child know that he has to wait till his birthday or he can save up for it. Children of preschooler age can start to help out in chores and earn money from it. You can even help your child to create things to sell online!
#3 Don’t Buy because it’s Broken
It’s inevitable that things may get broken or lost when children play with them. Don’t give in by replacing the item for your child, instead have him or her bear the consequences of not taking care of the toys. If the item needs to be replaced (for instance, an item from the library or the damage item belongs to another friend), have your child use his piggy bank’s money to pay for it or work towards saving that amount. It is not being mean to your child but empowering him to be accountable for his actions.
#4 Don’t Buy and Buy (Yourself!)
No matter what we say, our children watch what we do. It’s easy to say not to be materialistic, not to hoard things, not to want more and more but if you are constantly shopping to buy the latest gadget, or keeping an eye on sales for things you don’t need, that would be the message that your child picks up. If you say you are sad because you couldn’t get your hands on the Apple Watch when it’s released or that your day feels awful because you have to wait two weeks for the colour you want for your iPhone, your child will associate happiness with possessions. Television is also constantly bombarding our children with stuff – you have to get a toy, eat a burger, go to an event to be happy.
#5 Give and Give (to Others!)
Volunteering as a family is a rewarding experience. Its benefits are manifold – you give your time, your resources to others and it directly benefits someone else. In this process, you spend time as a family and your child is a first-hand witness that giving to others can bring happiness to your family and others! It’s a paradigm shift that being rich in life is not confined to the material world.
#6 Give Your Passion, Receive Your Talent
Instead of giving things to our children, we can give our passion. Show your child what your passion is and what it means to pursue it. Encourage your child to discover his passion and in the process of doing so, he will get better at certain skills and receive ‘talent’. Being good at something is immeasurably rewarding and a great gift to the society.
#7 Teach the Value of Money
It is impossible to run away from the topic of money as it is part and parcel of life. However, teaching them the value of money is essential. When your child is older, start teaching your child how to manage money. Set a budget and help your child to plan his expenses. Limit phone bills and online expenses. By tackling the issue of money head-on, you can empower your child to use money wisely.
This may seem like an easy subject to handle – just don’t indulge our kids with gifts right? Well, it can get difficult in reality to implement – Firstly, how do you tell your child why you have suddenly decided that he will no longer get presents? Next, how do you work out the period of tantrums and confusion with your spouse? Are both of you onboard and in agreement on making an effort to raise an empowered, not entitled child? And is your child really missing the presents or missing your presence?
Keep your communication channels open and exercise patience and wisdom during this time of making the changes.
It is definitely not easy, many parents know first-hand the difficulties of parenting the ‘right’ way when life is a pressure cooker. It is also not easy to resist giving your child what he wants when all his friends seem to have it. Work closely with your spouse and when the going gets tough, think about the riches you are giving your child in your parenting journey.