“Too Much Stuff”

So we’ve just finished with the Christmas season and that means that it’s now that special time of year…the time for purging! In our house, every year we receive new toys, books, gifts, clothes etc. and that means we can throw out or give away some of the things that have been accumulating for the last year in our closets, cupboards and drawers.

Although I am a bit of a pack-rat and am organizationally challenged, I have married a very orderly man who has a knack for shelf-building and loves to throw things out. So he has spent the last 2 weeks cleaning out the closets, building more shelves into them and purging all the things we no longer need or want to make room for our new items. Our home takes on a general cleaner, neater feeling, and I am grateful for his special skill in this area.

Inevitably this time of year stimulates discussion regarding how many toys the children have and whether or not we are spoiling them with too much “stuff”. The truth is they probably have too much stuff and they are more blessed than many, many children around the world. That is why we try to teach them the virtues of gratitude and thankfulness and take measures to instil in them the value of hard work and saving their money for things that they would like.

I have never understood the concept of giving children an “allowance”, what are we allowing them to do? How does giving them money each week just for being our children teach them anything about life in the real world? I also don’t believe that children should be paid to do all manner of chores and jobs around the house. I think that living together under one roof and being a productive part of the family involves participating (willingly) in things like, setting the dinner table and clearing the dishes, picking up toys and books, keeping their rooms neat and tidy, helping to carry in the groceries etc. In our family my son has been learning that we all share the responsibility to keep our home neat and to help us out where needed to achieve that, it’s about teamwork and loving each other by helping whether the task pertains to us personally or not.

On the other hand, there is a specific list containing tasks for which he is paid a small sum of money each week if he consistently completes the jobs without complaining or the need for Mom’s coercion. Things like picking up after the dog, feeding and walking the dog, handling the recycling chore etc… these are jobs that my son completes and in return is paid $5.00 a week. His paycheque is the money he has earned for doing a pre-determined list of jobs. We hope that he will learn the value of hard work, and also learn that by setting and reaching a goal he can earn the money he wants to buy his own wish list. The lesson being that the harder he works the easier it is to reach his financial goals, and hopefully he will learn that he should not take anything he has for granted.

The world we live in now is so focussed on material things and driven by consumerism that it can be difficult to raise grounded humble children in spite of the incredible affluence around us. But I believe it is vitally important for the next generation to build a good work ethic and not grow up with a sense of entitlement or greed.

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