As a parent I always found it so difficult having to say “no” to my girls. But I knew if I didn’t I would ruin them. I mean look around, we’re knee deep in a society created by a lot of bleeding-heart soft parents, and it’s not going well, not going well at all. I used to hate hearing the word when I was little, and I would dance around a question rather than ask it straight out. Yannick accuses me of being this way still, but I beg to differ, and this is an entirely separate blog. When I was younger I always crafted my questions in a way so they didn’t actually sound like questions, because, if I’m being honest it was less likely that I would be flat out told “no” if I never actually asked a question. And the funny thing about this, is that I have one daughter who is exactly like this, and parenting her, teaching her how to ask for what she wants has taught me how to, even as an adult, be more direct with my asks. It is funny how habits/coping mechanisms that we developed in our childhood carry through with us into adulthood, and onto our kids.
One of the things that I avoided asking direct questions about was anything that involved my mom spending money on me. I knew all too well that my dad didn’t contribute to the household expenses of our family. Once my dad left, that was it. It all fell on my mom’s shoulders, so it was a miracle that we got to participate in any extracurricular activities at all. To be honest I’m still not exactly sure how my mom managed it all…but somehow, she did, and for that I’m deeply grateful.
Because of this I can appreciate first-hand how painful it is as a parent to watch your child not be able to pursue interests due to financial hardships facing a family. Yannick and I have been there too with our own girls. It’s not easy telling a child no when there seem to be so many families, and so many kids who are participating in not only one activity of their choice but many. It is hard to parent a child through witnessing the plenty that some live with while your situation may be different. I get it. I totally do. And the one thing I can say to hopefully encourage you should you be dealing with this within your family at this exact moment and time is that there are ways to engage your child in something without it costing a fortune. Well at least there is here in Canada, I don’t know how other schools structure their after-school programs, or their art and music programs; nor do I know if you have local community centres where you can enroll your child in activities that cost a fraction of doing so privately. But I do know this, it’s worth getting online and looking into.
Whatever your financial situation is the bottom line is this, it’s as true for our children as it is for us. There will always, always, always, be people who have more than you do, and there will always, always, always, be people who have less. The important thing we must teach our children, if we want them to grow up and know peace from the green devil of envy, and what we must embrace ourselves is the understanding that nobody’s life is perfect, and that as difficult as it is sometimes, we must fight the temptation of looking at what others have and wanting it for ourselves. Easier said than done I know, as an A type, competitive, ambitious woman. But, the reality is there is no way to know what their lives are really like, there just isn’t. Things are never what they seem on the outside. Ever.
The final thing we must practice, and then instill in our children is gratitude. The art of finding what to be thankful for in our own lives, without allowing ourselves to be jealous for what it looks like others have in their lives. Help your kids to look inward and be thankful for all that they already have, rather than all that they seemingly don’t have, then find one new program/sport/activity to enroll them in, and celebrate it with gratitude.
Start with gratitude, end with gratitude, and live with gratitude