Parenting From Abundance.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: you're out with your family and your child asks "Can we have cotton candy/ice cream/a new pet/you-name-it?" You're conflicted: you want your child to be happy, but don't want them to be spoiled. You want to enjoy the moment with them, but don't want to raise a spendthrift. Ten years into this and I've probably been there a 1,000 times. I recently realized where these feelings are coming from and developed an idea to solve the problem in the future by setting and sharing the right intentions.
The conversation with Dr. Shefali on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday podcast delivered one of those ah-ha moments last week. I realized that I have often unconsciously approached these moments from a place of scarcity. I've mentioned before that I grew up in a childhood steeped in lack, fear and financial insecurity. As a child, I didn't go to many events with my mother, and when I did, I did not even have the courage to ask. I already knew the inevitable answer.
The podcast episode helped me realize that I have been unknowingly passing that fear of scarcity along to my children--always in the form of great intentions. When my children ask to buys things, their requests trigger that scarcity in me from childhood - it's almost instinctual.Even now as a mother, despite financial abundance, I find myself operating with that fear of not wanting to raise irresponsible or entitled children. I've actually caught myself passing on that pain from my past by saying, "When I was a kid I wasn't ever permitted to get (insert request here)." Not only does that response fail to serve them, but it actually hands down to them the feelings from a place I hope never to return.
We want our children to approach money with gratitude, joyful presence and wisdom. I must replace my response for requests to buy things with words that encourage positive learning opportunities. My plan is this:
1. Prior to the event (this is also possible at home with monthly or weekly allowances) set expectations, both in budget and opportunties:
"Mom and Dad have agreed our family will spend $X today/this week/this month. We know that we are going to a place with different options of food, treats, tickets, toys, etc. They may have other things you want to spend your money on, too. We can help you make a plan to spend it, or you can decide on your own."
This gives them boundaries (either as a collective budget or per-child allotment) and some ideas for them to understand the opportunity costs associated with any purchase.
2. When the request comes, remind them of our goals as we work through the decision(s) to spend:
"The Wolff family is responsible with our spending. If we buy this, ______"
This will be the "heavy lifting" in the process. We can talk about whether the purchase aligns with our family vision.
This approach provides reasonable boundaries for our family that come from reality - not my scarcity instinct. It takes the pressure off the parent of being the nay-sayer and hopefully reduces the number of requests or at the very least provide tools to help address them. It is not a silver bullet. I know that step two will present its own challenges, but the discussion will now be directed at how this expenditure fits with our family values and not my own fears.
The podcast episode inspired Josh and I to begin re-reading The Awakened Family By Dr. Shefali and working on practical ways of implementing the philosophies in a multiple child household. In all honesty, we found the book to be equally inspirational and challenging. As a seeker of conscious living and present parenting, I am grateful for this conversation. I look forward to diving into this deeper with fellow parents!