In childhood less is more

I grew up in such a modest lifestyle that sometimes I feel like I couldn't possibly have spoiled kids. Growing up poor taught me one thing: do not ask for anything, do not expect anything.  This is the way it was and there was nothing I could do about it.  I learned to do without and guess what, I actually lived.  Take an iPhone away from our kids nowadays and they will soon wonder how they will take another breath without posting it on social media.  It seems now this very simple life lesson has been completely wiped out of our kids existence.  They think they live in the land of plenty, so plenty is to be expected. They see their parents have all these cool things and gadgets, so they should too.  It all makes sense in their mind but in the end it spells trouble if this does not get addressed and the sooner the better.

throwing tantrums :)
Parents nowadays, we tend to bend backwards to provide for our kids.  Maybe by getting them everything I didn’t have when I was a kid, it will somehow make up for all those things I wish I did. Our parenting is shaped by our upbringing and the way our parents were either makes us who we are or makes us who we are not.  I was not ungrateful because, well I din't have much to be ungrateful for.  My childhood was simple.  I lived, I ate, I played.  I didn't worry about what someone else had.

I want nothing more than to give my kids everything I din’t have… which by default this already happened by the time they turn one.  This doesn’t mean I don’t want to do more for them or heck give them everything and more if I could.  But unfortunately, that’s not the way it works because it will back fire.  I thought I had this figured out from the beginning.  I mean, I wasn't this needy kid so therefore my kids won't be either. But I was wrong.  Kids learn by example, not by just mere words or even wishful thinking.  I can tell my kids my sob stories about my childhood lacking simple items like shoes all day long but nothing will matter to them as long as they have their iPhone in their hands, they will feel complete.

Unfortunately I have learned that excessive giving causes more harm than good to our kids.  More than material things, what truly matters and makes all the difference are the life lessons they learn from us. Those are the things you can't buy at the store or order off Amazon.  (I wish.  I've looked) This is what they will take with them for the rest of their life.  Here's a few of my tips:

  1. Appreciate Those Around You.  We want our kids to ultimately be independent so that one day they will not need anyone right?  Wrong.  The fact is that we all need someone at some point or another and even if we don’t, we should always be grateful for those around us anyways.  This is such an important thing to learn.  Teach them interdependence, or the fact that we all need each other.  My mothers was my foundation, I would crumble without her in my life.  She means so much to me for everything she has done for me.  Big or small, she helped mold me into who I am today.  Fathers, siblings, grandparents and friends… everyone and everything around them matters and should never be taken for granted.  This interconnectedness will develop a sense of gratefulness that will have a positive change in our kid's lives.
  2. Feelings Matter. Things Don’t.  When you give something to someone is because you love them.  Their feelings matter to you and it also makes you happy in return.  It’s not uncommon for my mother to give us socks for Christmas.  It’s actually her trademark at this point.  But what this has taught me is that no matter what it may be, it’s the feelings behind giving and receiving that matters.  Those socks mean the world to me and I wear them with pride because I am wearing Socks of Love!  Give for the sake of giving without expecting anything in return.
  3. Nothing lasts Forever.  Enjoy the day, the hour, the minute because before you know it, it’s all gone.  This is not just a fact of life for us, we often ignore this as kids as well.  We think we have all the time in the world and end up wasting half of it by the time we decide to do anything.  Video games?  Snapchatting?  This is all a big waste of time.  Turning moments into memories is what they will take with them.  
My one rule for my spoiled kids: not in my house. I had little and struggled a lot so I will not have kids who could care less about the small importances of life like family and respect and love.  I will not hear “I can’t” for things that I had to do.  Walk miles to school every day?  Did it.  Had one pair of shoes all year? Did that too.  I dealt with doing without and I’m fine, it's called survival. Things don't matter, only life, people and feelings matters.

I want my kids to have what I didn’t of course, but I will not under any circumstances ruin a good thing by doing the wrong one. When in doubt, don’t. You will have more appreciative kids when they have less than when they don't even have a place to put their junk anymore.  Trust me. I'm an expert in nothingness and for our kid's sakes, in their childhood less is definitely more!  Less things, more memories and experiences is my way to go.

Lorena Frith

Lifestyle Photographer in the Houston, Tx area.

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