Don’t Buy Me What You Wish You’d Had, Teach Me What You Wish You’d Known.”


Have you ever heard that quote? I hadn’t heard it until the other day, but I liked it so much that I wanted to share it with you. Some quotes, like “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice,” have the power to make you think and evaluate the way that you talk and act.

When I read this quote the other day, it had the same impact:

Child looking out with quote above her: Dont' buy me what you wish you'd had, teach me what you wish you'd known.

The other day, at the dinner table, our son said, “In four years, I’ll be getting ready to go to college. Isn’t that crazy?”

Sure. If by “Isn’t that crazy,” he meant, “Isn’t that when you’ll be crying your eyes out as you send me on my way?” then sure – it was crazy.

That’s what it’s all about though, isn’t it? We work hard to raise our children so they can become responsible adults living their own lives.

It’s the reason that we spend so many nights contemplating if we’re doing a good enough job. It’s why we use those hours between their bedtime and our own to go over the things that we wish we had done differently during the day or to make plans about what we would do differently tomorrow.

We Don’t Dream Of THINGS

When I was 23 years old, and we were getting ready to have our first child, I didn’t dream of giving him the best toys, the latest device, the coolest car, or the chance to check off everything on his Christmas list.

I dreamt of giving him the chance to be happy and successful in his life. I dreamt of being a great role model, teacher, and mother. I dreamt of teaching him to be a good person, a hard-worker, and a kind person. I wanted to raise him in the kind of home that he would want to come home to every day – one filled with kindness, love, and support, not the coolest toys, devices, and gifts.

“Instead of buying your children all the things you never had, you should teach them all the things you were never taught. Material wears out, but knowledge stays.” – Bruce Lee

No matter how you put it, it means the same thing – teach them well.

Teach Them Well

Education is important: formal and life.

Formal education is the reason that we supplement our children’s’ education. It’s why we work hard not to share our math-anxiety with our children.  It’s also why our kids watch these geography videos – so they can understand it better than I did as a child.

Life Education is the reason that we give our children experiences over toys. “Experience is the best teacher.” We hear this so often because it is often the experiences that provide lasting lessons. They are the lessons that stay with you forever, becoming deep-rooted in your life.

Why Not Give Them What They Want… If We Can?

My great-grandmother lived through the great depression. It’s the reason that she would split the cost & contents of a box of $1.00 brownie-mix with my mom, or save the buttons before getting rid of a shirt that no longer fit.

My grandma (her daughter-in-law) spent her money in the same way. When she spent money, it was to go on a vacation with family or to go out to eat with her grandchildren.

Both of those women had more money in their bank accounts than I ever knew. They saved their money to use on experiences rather than spend it on the things that ads and commercials tell us we should want.

My parents raised my brother and me in the same way, and I always knew that was how I wanted to raise our children, as well. My mom once told me that it was often harder to say ‘no’ to buying your children something when you had the money than saying ‘no’ because you didn’t.

When our kids ask for a toy, even if it’s only $1.00, I often have to say no. Can we afford it? Yes. Would it put a dent in the budget? No.

We say no to these small requests because this is where the lessons are learned. The value of a dollar. The gratitude.

Now that our children are older, I’ve noticed that while they used to ask for things while we were shopping (a pack of gum, a toy in the dollar section of target, a drink from the snack area), they rarely do now.

What if we had said yes to all of those things? Would they still be asking? Would it have become a more significant item? Would they have lost the sense of gratitude that they have when they do get something?

I’ve seen the outcome of children who have always heard yes. They often turn into adults who have everything they want, along with debt and the constant need to chase money to try to buy joy.

Teach Them What We Now Know

This comes in so many different forms. It isn’t just about those life-lessons like “money can’t buy happiness.” It is everything.

Mickey and I eat mostly plant-based foods, as do my parents. We all started a few years ago after watching several documentaries and started down the path of educating ourselves on the best foods for our health. If my parents had known this when I was growing up, I’m sure that I would have grown up eating plant-based.

Now I have the choice to teach our children. It is undoubtedly hard when I put a smoothie on the table at breakfast instead of a bowl of cereal or a cinnamon roll (which we still have on occasion), or a bowl of zucchini pasta on the table at dinner instead of a burger.

It Is Our Job

The thing is, we are their parents. It is our job to raise them. It is our job to teach things that will better their lives.

Don’t buy me everything you wish you could have HAD growing up; teach me everything you wish you had KNOWN growing up.

We have to say no, even though we want to say yes, to shape their character.

We have to insist that they help out before they hang out in order to teach them the value of hard work and team-work.

We have to make hard decisions to keep them safe.

We have to unspoil them when they begin to show signs of entitlement.

Parents have the hardest and best job at the same time.

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