Don’t hand…let them earn.

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Pink and yellow stripes. On one wall only because I have limits on the circus themed little princess room. Autumn was only 3 when we bought our home and her room would be upstairs. We kept her and Scout downstairs for about 3 years just to be on the safe side (mom paranoid about staircase made of wood with no carpet covering) until they were both old enough to be in their own rooms. So we made the dining room into their room. Anyway, when it came time to move then upstairs, I wanted to go all out for Autumn. And by all out I mean, her headboard was purchased by an aunt for $5 at a yard sale -super pretty white wicker princess look- her furniture was my mothers from when she was a child we painted white and trimmed in gold- my mother also made her the cutest circus themed curtains out of pink and yellow material- a light pink wall and a light green wall later…voilà…Autumns room was exactly as I wanted. She was just tickled pink. Yes, that’s corny but cute. And fitting.

Fast forward a couple of years and I began to hear “this is such a baby room” right?! So a “pick some paint you’ll want for a while” talk and a couple of days of moving and painting happened and she now had a lime green and hot pink room. And raise your hand if you think that look lasted to teenage land!!

So, this spring I had asked TJ for our staircase and upstairs hallway to be painted due to some Sheetrock work and 30+ years of stair usage. Well of course I started hearing “mom, can I have my room painted??!” Tidbit of info ya may/may not know about me…I have never been a mom who causally gives her children everything they want. I have had 2 major philosophies in parenting my little grown ups to be:
1) I am here to fulfill your NEEDS…not your wants
2) this world does NOT revolve around what you want
Of course, before you do the hand over mouth “I cannot believe you would be that way to those babies” reaction, I explain these principles to them and by 13 and 12 they have NO problem understanding. Doesn’t mean they always LiKE them…but they understand. I am a very fair mom. I am a deal making mom. My kids LOVE a good deal…one year for Halloween, I wanted to go see Cam Newton play -well the whole AU team but him specifically because he was just a beast- in Oxford, MS. Being only 2.5 hrs from me, made sense…AU is 4.5. So, this particular game fell ON Halloween night and at the time, my kids were still itty bitty and liked the dressing up for candy thing. So, I made them a deal:
•if yall will be ok with me going to Ole Miss…I will buy you a WHOLE BAG of your 5 favorite candies!!
Deal agreed upon.
~~that whole “this world isn’t about you and what you want” philosophy…I’m STILL trying to teach myself. So yes I see the practice what you preach line thrown at me. Annnnd I hear ya.

Back to this. Autumn hit the grown teenage world just as expected. So began the “I hate this pink/green room” talks for about a year. I reminded her I had said for her to pick a color that she would be happy with for years so she was just going to have to deal. But since I was having our staircase and upstairs professionally painted, I made a deal with her. I would let her pick a simple basic natural color and have her room painted. BUT that would mean that NOTHING in her room would match because everything was loud and colorful and ready for a peace sign convention at any moment. So if she was willing, she could work and buy new bedding and accessories to go with her basic color. She quickly agreed. And will give young people advise about making quick deals without giving much consideration.

“I found a bedding on Amazon mom and it’s only $79!” To which I replied “ok baby, here’s what I want you to do. Pick out every single thing you want for your room off Amazon and put everything in the cart. Bedding, curtains, rug, picture frames, art work, load it up. And when you’re finished, look at the total. Then I want you to sit down and write me a proposal. Present me with a series of jobs you will do and the amount of money you expect to be paid for each. I will look over the proposal and tell you if each job is worth what you are asking and let you know. Then, you can redecorate your room. I will pay for the paint job, you will work and pay for your stuff.” She thought and said “oh wow. This will be easy. $10 for dishes per loa–” she was QUICKLY heartbroken when I interrupted to say “oh no baby, CHORES don’t have a pay reward…you do those things because you live here and that’s your contribution.” “Soooooo…what can I do then if I’m not gonna get paid for chores?” “Well, I don’t normally wash my base boards. So, you wash them and I’ll pay you $25. I hate to wash the outside of windows. You do all the windows and I’ll pay $50. The tops of door frames…dusty. Dust em all off and that’ll earn ya $30.” (She was used to the concept because as 6,7,8, etc. year olds we would make them work in the flower bed if they wanted a toy or a ball. Or things of that sort). The last job we came to an agreement on was sweeping and washing ALL THREE PORCHES! See above photo (well below for you FB readers) So once her stuff was picked out, and the jobs were established with appropriate pay out, the room was painted a beautiful light shade of gray and redecorated as desired.

The value in training a child that wants come with a responsibility to work and provide a way by oneself is just crucial, we believe. When children learn that stuff comes at a price, and that price is their time, sweat, energy, and effort…they become more aware of sacrifice and less spoiled and entitled. They begin to appreciate the value of needs being fulfilled and less focused on having a bunch of worthless stuff. Our children are so over the top spoiled in ways that aren’t material, and yet have all their material needs met as well. They are spoiled with parents who adore them, who are madly in love and goody and silly and fun. They are spoiled with food every single time they want it. They don’t even know what a true hunger pain feels like. They’ve never slept in the cold, or the dark, or been abused physically, emotionally, mentally. They are told they are loved every single day. They have their own rooms and their own things. And yet we KNOW that continuing to train them to know about work, money, taxes, sacrifice, effort, accountability is CRUCIAL for them in order for them to be content and satisfied adults. Handing a child every single thing he/she asks for is setting that child up for an adulthood of disappointment! Because come on…who of you reading this has that person just dishing your every “hey, I want that” out to you??

So. It’s worth thinking about what you are training your babies to know about wants vs. needs. It’s worth making them earn what they want. Be creative and think of ways, no matter their ages, to train them to understand the difference between a need and a want. Be willing to take care of every single need they have…and also be willing to make them earn their wants.


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