My daughter Evelyn and I sat on her bedroom floor and dumped out the contents of her silver piggy bank onto the grey carpet. I helped her carefully count out five dollars, mostly nickels and dimes. She put the fistful of change in a plastic bag.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked.
“Yes, Mama. I’ll save more for the puppy purse.” Suddenly Evelyn’s eyes clouded over. “What if someone buys the purse before me?”
“That’s a chance you’ll have to take.” I replied. “What you do with your allowance is your decision.”
My four-year old had spotted a puppy purse in the shoe store several weeks ago. It was just like the one her friend has, with a fluffy white head and a brightly coloured sequin body. It was one of those toys that I knew would only hold her interest for a short time.
To be truthful, she had responded rather poorly in the store when I told her that I wouldn’t buy it for her. But no means no. We don’t just buy things for our children because they want them. So I explained to her that, if it was really important to her, she could either earn money for it by doing extra chores around the house (in addition to the things normally expected of her) or she could ask for it for Christmas. Evelyn decided to do the extra chores.
But now there was a festival in a large park nearby. And there were ponies. If there is one thing in the world that my daughter loves, it’s anything equine.
As a parent, there are many times when I want to give my children everything they want. Although there is nothing wrong with blessing your children, you do them a disservice when you spoil them. When I look around, I see a generation of kids growing up with a sense of entitlement. How can someone become a productive member of society if they are accustomed to having everything handed to them on a silver platter?
It’s okay say no. It’s okay for children to sometimes have to earn things. In fact, it’s a good thing. It teaches children about the value of work and of money. It teaches them decision-making skills. And it gives them a sense of ownership for those decisions.
Today, Evelyn had to make a choice. Use her allowance for a pony ride? Or continue to save for a puppy purse?
Evelyn chose to spend her allowance on a pony ride. This is the second year in a row, actually, that she has chosen to do this with her allowance. The look on her face when she is riding a pony says it all.
And the memories will last a lifetime.