Monday, August 30, 2010

My Kids Can’t Have Everything – Learning to Say No

As much as it is important that our kids learn the lesson that they can't have everything, I think that is an equally important lesson for me (and other parents). My kids can't have everything. Let's face it, most of us would do anything to give more to our kids and to enable them to be involved in the activities we all deem so important.

Our desire for our kids is strong. We want them to be socially accepted, get and have the same things as their friends, wear new clothes, have the latest gadgets, participate in extracurricular activities, become well-rounded, and have the same opportunities as their peers.

Now these are tough economic times. And I'm at the point where I am working in essence three jobs to keep our current standard of living – which isn't much of a standard if I say so myself. It's all about paying for the kids activities and needs. My husband and I have essentially put our needs and wants on hold, which I imagine is far more common than some people would have you believe.

Recently, I said 'no' to my daughter's request to add soccer to our already busy schedule. She had assumed we would acquiesce to her playing soccer since she has played for the past several seasons. But we did not. We've decided not to add another activity, rather we are asking that she choose between her current activity of karate, or soccer – but she isn't doing both.

And she nearly cried because she loves them both. And of course, I want her to be able to do both, but I really need to be firm on this one for a couple of reasons.

First, adding soccer simply makes life far too busy, and we've been doing it for years now. Every spring and fall she signs up for the recreation soccer team and she has a blast. And I have to admit, we enjoy going to the games also, watching her play and grow in her skills, and in socializing with the other parents. But, adding practice one or two nights a week and a game each week on Saturday is completely impractical (I did previously mention three jobs, didn't I?). It's just too much.

Secondly, the cost. While soccer is relatively inexpensive compared to other choices kids have today, it still isn't free. And after the modest registration/sign-up fee, you still have the cost of soccer cleats, shin guards, ball, etc., unless we get lucky and one of the items still fits from last year. We don't usually get that lucky though. Plus the costs of providing snacks for the team when it's your turn.

So, while this is hard as hell for me, I plan to stick to my guns. I think saying no to your kid sometimes is harder on the parent than on the kid.

I often say that kids get too much today, but I don't think the blame can reside solely on the kid. They are young and learning the ways of this world. In their innocence and hope they ask for lots of things they want. That's natural. But it is us parents that don't say no that we should blame. I wish I could give my kids the world, but the better gift to give might just be the realization that nobody gets everything.