The other day my husband went out for the afternoon with our sons, ages four and a half and almost six. And they came home with a small plastic game, a sort of magnetic fishing game with tiny plastic poles and snapping fish mouths. It’s not the first time that he’s bought them a small piece of plastic destined to be broken, lost or forgotten in a matter of days if not hours.
And this post is not even about his buying such toys for our kids. Sure, it frustrates me that he spends money on something so decidedly unfrugal, something that I’ll have to take to the thrift store in a few weeks or months. But what bothers me more is the idea that in order to show children love, you have to buy them stuff.
Things. Stuff. My house is overflowing, and I’m sure yours is as well. Birthdays, holidays, visits to the grandparents, trinkets from trips to the beach etc etc. I don’t mind my kids having lots of toys, nor do I even mind buying them things ‘just because’.
I am trying to teach my kids about money. We’ve instituted an allowance, we tell them a bit about our finances. My husband and I talk about the relation between going to work and having money to live in our house, or buy them clothes. What I don’t want to do is tell them that we’re buying them something to make them happy, to treat them, or reward them. Is this wrong?
I don’t want them to associate my love with their stuff, especially new stuff. I want them to enjoy being with me and experiencing experiences with me, without clamoring for trinkets. And, I’d like it, if when I did buy them something ‘just because’, they were a little bit grateful.
Is this too much to ask? What do you think?