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on allowances and gift giving
Well, hello there, as a daughter used to say when she arrived home from college for a weekend - and threw bags of laundry in the door with her. I do apologize for not answering all your questions sooner. Hubby and I have been busy with a new grandchildren, our ninth. Some of you undoubted thought me a spring chicken. Not so. I am more closely related to a boiling fowl - old and tough.
Now the questions: How to deal with children, allowances, wants, desires and frugality. We had lots of children but little money. Peer pressure was as prevalent in the 70's (that is the 1970's folks. I am not that old a fowl) as it is today. We started early by making it clear to our brood that we did not have money to purchase their wants and desires - just their basic needs. Early? Six years old is good. Our children always had the basics, clean clothing, food on the table and a loving home, warm home to enjoy. They did not receive a substantial allowance. They did not eat in the school cafeteria. Nor did they own the latest trendy jacket or shoes. We did not buy into "the look." They were all encouraged to find part time entry level work to enable them to purchase those desires, if they wanted to own them. They were also encouraged to be individuals and to tell the truth. Are we poor, one asked? Poor in money but rich in love and care for each other was the answer. This might not go down so well when the desire is the expensive team jacket and the reality is "can't have" unless you work for it. The message bears repeating a number of times, "If you want it, you work for it."
If they were "ragged" at school their answer was simple - mom and dad cannot afford to purchase . . . . . They were also told at a very early age that we could not afford university or college expenses. If they desired further education they would have to work for the privilege. Every one today has a degree and a good job. While in college we kept an old car on the road for each of them (took care of the insurance) and regularly sent care packages to them - canned goods, Kleenex, toilet paper, treats. As they all attended college early they used home facilities for laundry and such. I asked several at our last family gathering how they handled peer pressure. Basically the answer was that we taught them to be independent individuals with a positive outlook and an initiative to success under any circumstances. They cut their own trails through life - and great trails they are too! As a son said - we were not out to impress. We were in school to learn, not to play games and dress a part. We were taught that very early in life.
The moral of the story is that if one teaches by example, children with learn by example.
Tough love? You bet. But it worked!
By the way, when we did have a little money - we never loaned money to our children. We never gifted our children money. We never make a gift of money to our grandchildren. They knew enough not to ask. We knew enough not to give. Makes for better relations and independence all around.
Now for Mice!
We do make sure that when the extended family is here during the holiday season we have one great, big, live, overwhelming Christmas tree hung with decorations we have collected over the years and also gotten from parents and grandparents. We do not spend big dollars on fake decorations for the home and property. We hang a simple cedar wreath on our front door. The house radiates with love, laughter, music, good food and a respect for the true meaning of the Christmas season.
As for our brothers and sisters, aunt and uncles - we told them a very long time ago that we simply could not afford gifts for nieces, nephews, in-laws and outlaws, aunts and uncles. Some did not buy into the situation - the wealthy ones - thought we were miserly - did not understand "poor." Too bad for them. Each year they receive a nice long personal letter in December - I stress personal.
Realize that Christmas is an emotional time for many people. It brings out both the best and the worse in people. It does take effort to say "enough is enough" - back to the basics - the true meaning of Christmas. But having said and done it years ago, I can tell you that the season for this household is truly festive, relaxed and meaningful.
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