There is no single answer or even a correct answer to the dilemmas and choices that parents must face in raising their children.
While wanting our kids to be healthy and successful, we often build up unrealistic expectations of what life is all about. We provide them with virtually every toy and piece of athletic equipment, every new doll or fashion accessory, every electronic device to keep up with their peer group, and often foot the bill for an education that we really can't afford, putting ourselves in debt to benefit the next generation. Is this really the best course?
My own parents and their generation grew up during the Great Depression, spent the prime of their youth fighting a world war and a police action in Korea, matured during the fifties under the shadow of the atomic bomb, even building basement bomb shelters to protect us children.
Then came the age of television and rising expectations. Not only were we aware of all the new inventions and products, we watched our television heroes amidst all the prosperity and we wanted our fair share.
While our parents saved cash in a coffee can buried in the back yard, salvaged Christmas wrapping paper and saved every little piece of aluminum foil, we just wanted bigger and bigger televisions, new stylish clothes, transistor radios, record players, multi-speed bicycles, and the latest toy guns, even REAL horses to ride! It must have driven our parents crazy and caused the GRANDPARENTS to just shake their heads at the "younger generation."
I know the popular practice is to tell our children that they can be ANYTHING; can grow up to be President or be rich and famous and have everything their little hearts desire.
I'm not at all certain that we do not set up our kids for failure and disappointment by building these expectations, by providing instant gratification, and protecting them from the harsh realities that LIFE often dishes out. They DO need to be prepared for the bad times as well as the good. They don't learn to cope with "want" and scarcity by being sheltered and shielded from the real life struggles that we as parents experience.
I think they should be encouraged to aim high, that is okay, but still need to realize that material goods and monetary successes are not the measures of their self worth. We need to temper our generosity with a little reality check. Teach them to save for what they want. Teach them work skills and financial skills and life skills. Why shouldn't they know how to cook and clean and operate the household appliances, to change a tire or the oil in the car?
Delayed gratification can enhance the pleasure. We learned that; they should learn it too.
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