Parenting

Is My Kid Spoiled?

Hear ye, hear ye
I formally announce that I am not perfect.
And some days do not know what the hell I am doing
when it comes to being a parent.
But I shall do my best to raise good citizens of this world.
I, Queen of my Household, decree it and make it so.

There, I said it. But admitting and accepting the fact that I could get some things wrongs (but hopefully more things right) when it comes to parenting doesn’t take away the fact that I have some hard decisions and discussions in front of me.

I’ve entered a new stage, or really, I’ve been in this for a little while and it’s just now becoming more prominent with my oldest, H. I’m still early into the parenting stages and I’m not sure I can say I have mastered any of the ones I’ve already experienced.

Newborn: Check
The Short-Lived Baby Phase: check
The Toddler Phase: Check (our youngest Sweet P just graduated to this phase though I won’t admit it most days.)
The Preschooler Phase: Check (our second son J is mastering this stage at his own pace.)
The Big Kid Phase: And this is where I sit for now. It’s the longest phase I have yet to experience but the underlining stages in this phase will carry over and last a lifetime.

As my six-year-old approaches seven, I’m in what will be the longest phase of my parenting journey — the Life Lesson stage. This is where we will help guide his beliefs. These are the years where he will really start to remember his childhood, and maybe not so much of what was said to him but how someone or something made him feel. How something made him feel matters more than what was actually said. I remember the happy times of my childhood but I remember the stings, too.

We have to do our best as parents to respond to a question or dilemma quickly and hope our response is good enough — psst, it probably is. And if you worry about that kind of stuff, you’re already a great parent. And although, we will mess up and say the wrong thing or make it awkward or too complicated that doesn’t make us a terrible parents — we are perfectly imperfect humans.

H is basically me in male form. He’s soft-hearted, sensitive, inquisitive, goofy and creative. H wants everyone to like him (a trait I passed down.) He does have some unique experiences under him and his toy box isn’t empty, but I wouldn’t call him spoiled. A lucky duck, yes, but some spoiled, entitled child –  nope.

When it comes to discussing money, H has a basic concept. He knows you need money to keep the lights on, do fun things, etc., and that mommy and daddy work hard for it.

So earlier this week, I came home from work, feeling tired, more than I usually do (because I’m always tired there are just different levels of it. Can I get a amen?) and my soldier shared that H told our sitter that “grandpa and grandma have money and mom and dad have money and we have more money than you do.”

First thought:”What the hell!!” Second thought: “Where did he get that from?!” Third: “Why does he think we have money?!”

We were in complete shock. It took us, mainly me, a few minutes to assess the situation and how to handle it. We do discuss money around the kids but it’s usually me telling my husband to “watch his P’s and Q’s” and by that I’m really saying to him ” Don’t go on a Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club binge right now.” It should be noted that my soldier LOVES to cook, especially barbecue, and when he goes grocery shopping he magically spends $200 every time he goes in the store. I think they just charge him $200 for walking in.

“Oh look! He’s here! All the meat is on SALE! Better get it now or it’ll be gone FOREVER!!!” This is what I imagine in my head when he shows up to the grocery store sans kids and wife.I don’t deny his passion for cooking but I do have to put a belt on it and tighten that sucker up every so often.

If you know me, you know I’m all for a sale. I’m obsessed with Target just as much as any 30-something mom. I’m a couponer, thrift store shopper, garage saler, make-that-dollar-stretch kind of woman. I rarely pay full-price for a piece of clothing. And I’m proud of that.

My husband can be tight with money but not when it comes to food.We grew up with different backgrounds financially and I think that plays a role in why he likes to shop for food so much — ramen noodles are banned in our house, FYI. (Sorry, the rumors are false.My husband isn’t from a wealthy family. That’s a topic for another day.)

With all that said, we take great pride in budgeting and yes, we fudge the numbers and run a little short every so often BUT we always make it. I trust the Big Man upstairs and though sometimes it’s hard (as in I forgot my lunch and I have no cash so it’s a find all the quarters I have stashed in my car and hit up the Dollar Menu kind of hard).  I always go back to one of my favorite scriptures in stringent times – Psalm 3:5 “Trust the Lord with all your heart.”

God likes to remind me of this scripture when I wonder about our finances, personal relationships or my children’s well-being, pretty much anything. God always provides. It may not be what we wanted but it’s always what we need. The basics  are covered – food, water, clothing and shelter — and that’s what matters.

So when H said this to our sitter I wasn’t sure how to discipline. He needed to know that what he said was not appropriate and, clearly, the comparison beast was showing his ugly head.

Instead of scolding, I calmly asked him to explain why he thought we had money. It’s no secret back home that my parents’ hard work is paying off and they are building their dream home. I am happy for them and it just shows me that hard work and perseverance does pay off. H assumed because they are building a house they had money. That’s a naturally response to anyone building a home, no matter your age. And my mom, who taught me all about the cheddar, was never shy about the importance of budgeting and taking your time to find the best deal. It’s a running joke in my family that if mom gives you anything she will, instinctively, tell you the original price and how much she actually paid for it.

“Do you like that soap in the bathroom? I found it on clearance for 99 cents, plus I had a coupon for a dollar off so they paid me.” That’s exaggerated a bit but you get what I’m saying.

So, why does H he think we have money? Because he has heard us talk about “collecting” money or “saving” money for some bigger purchases, such as a new heating and cooling system, and assumed we had lots of it plus the fact that we have a giant jar in our bedroom where we put our spare change. This made us feel better but still the fact that he compared and judged was not okay in our books.

We took away his iPad privileges for two days, which he was reasonably cool about, and we had him write our sitter an apology letter. It’s a habit of mine to donate items around the house every few months or so and this incident solidifies that we are in need of a toy purge.

It’s one of those life lessons that will make its way back around the loop again and again; this is only the beginning. And I can’t take his remarks as a judgement on our parenting skills but I did feel like a bit of a failure in that department when I heard what he said. God reminded to focus on my truth — his truth for me — instead of my false insecurities.

I’m still trying to find a good video online for him to watch so he can understand a little better about the importance of giving back and appreciating what he has. I know that’s a concept we all have to constantly remember but you have to start somewhere. And he’s school age, so the comparison beast will really start to take the spotlight if we aren’t paying attention. But I trust God will lead us down the right path to handle this and other interesting situations that come our way.

We can’t change what was said but we hope our discipline for it is a good starting point for  an important life lesson we all must remember — it doesn’t matter how much money you have in this world, it’s about how you treat people.

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