Posted in Lessons Learned, Mommyhood

I owe My Girl nothing! Nothing, I say!

Last Updated on December 1, 2020 by World's Okayest Mom

This is the motto that Monica and I discovered, after berating ourselves with Mom Guilt one night.

I had to remind Monica of a book we read about raising grateful kids. She had actually highlighted and sent me the passage (but how quickly we forget). Our text messages are basically non-ending, so I spent five minutes trying to find the exact passage. No luck. Actually, no patience. So I’ll paraphrase:

The only thing we owe our children is our love.

The disease of Mom Guilt and Entitlement

That night, we were feeling guilty, thinking that we had #MomFailed, because we hadn’t found a time to take our girls to the pumpkin patch before Halloween.

This certainly did not deserve a bout of Mom Guilt, but that is the problem with Mom Guilt. Is it ever deserved?

We were feeling the onset of this disease as we drove our girls home from an all-day trip at the children’s museum. Let me say that again. We were feeling Mom Guilt about not making it to the pumpkin patch AS WE WERE DRIVING HOME FROM AN ALL-DAY TRIP AT THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM.

And we hadn’t found time for the pumpkin patch because my family had just returned from a vacation in the mountains and hers from a vacation at Disney World.

“We owe them nothing! NOTHING!”

We ranted this in the front seat, while the girls were oblivious in the back with their iPads. (No judgement. All-day trip to the museum. Two-hour drive home. Yes, we turned The Lion King on immediately upon starting the engine.)

We decided that’s our new motto. “We owe you nothing! NOTHING!” We agreed that it will just be between us, but I know a time will come when we shout this at our children.

(To our children’s defense, no fit was made about missing the pumpkin patch. Mom Guilt is something we put on ourselves. My Girl asked once about going, I told her it was closed and we’d try to find time next year. She immediately forgot and started in on a 30-minute story involving a sea horse swimming away from a shark but then becoming its friend.)

Instilling Gratefulness

This book (Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World) gave some far-winged ideas, but honestly, I’m not opposed to implementing many of them, or a form of them, in my own household. On Mondays, this family eats what the majority of the world eats every day: rice and beans. And when the children groan at their every Monday menu, it’s a wonderful reminder of what we have versus what many other families don’t have. I love this idea.

But The Husband. Oh, The Husband. He is a Midwesterner through and through. Meaning that all meals, according to him, should have red meat, potatoes, and either some form of gravy or cream of… (fill in the blank). A rice and bean Monday would not fly with him. This is the man who argued with me that My Girl could choose between rice and green beans, because “rice is a vegetable.” Uh, no.

I would like to implement a meatless Monday as an alternative, but I’m also sure this idea would be vetoed. (My reasons are more health-motivated than trying to teach My Girl a life lesson.) I haven’t even broached it with The Husband.

I find using this blog as a conversation starter works well. If he doesn’t read it (as I suspect is often the case), I can play innocent and say, “But I suggested it in the blog… (sweet smile). Didn’t you read it?” Or if he does read it, I don’t have to have that hard conversation. I just respond when he all of a sudden says, “Wait… You want to do what?!”

Giving without spoiling

I’m not alone in saying this:

I want My Girl to have more than I did growing up.

I’m also not complaining about what I had growing up. I never went without. Yes, I wore my sister’s hand-me-downs, and no, we never went on globe-trotting vacations. But I had everything I really needed.

My Girl, on the other hand, has it pretty good. She goes on vacations every year. She has a college savings account. She has two rooms full of toys, though she really only needs the cheap plastic animals from Tractor Supply Store. She’s certainly not without. And I’m very happy for her. But how do I skirt that line of giving her all the things I want her to have and not raising a spoiled brat?

That’s a serious question. Not rhetoric. Feel free to chime in.

Chores as the answer?

So we do chores. That’s a start, right? She has the “because you live here” chores: making her bed, helping to feed the pets, setting the table for dinner. Then she has “Mommy doesn’t want to do these chores so I’ll pay you for them” chores: moving the laundry from washer to dryer, putting away the silverware from the dishwasher (DISHWASHER! Another thing I didn’t have growing up! Lucky girl…), folding socks, mopping the floor.

Yes, mopping the floor. I’m actually pretty thrilled about this. At church the other day, she announced during the children’s sermon that she likes to mop the floor. I was simultaneously proud and also worried about child labor laws. It’s worth every bit of the three dollars I give her for mopping though, but I miss the days when I could pay her with marshmallows.

My Girl Marshmallows - raising grateful kids
Oh, to be paid in marshmallows. I’m not opposed to it.

I would try to use those chores as a disciplinary action and save myself the money, but my weird little freak of a child actually enjoys chores. So that idea was short-lived.

So with no other options, yes, My Girl gets an allowance for the chores I make her do, mainly because I hate them. Then I make her split it equally between spending and saving. I know I should probably make her split it in thirds and send part to a charity, but I’m not sure that’s her responsibility just yet.

My Girl Mopping - raising grateful kids
My Beautiful Little Weirdo actually likes mopping. Maybe I’m doing something right…

The Less Fortunate

My Girl understands, a little, that there are less fortunate souls out there. I’m not saying that stops her from pouting and bemoaning her fate when I won’t buy her a hover board, or worse, when she realized the hover board has wheels and doesn’t actually hover in mid-air. I have to admit, I found that fact disappointing as well.

But My Girl was incensed this summer when, during vacation Bible school, she learned there were kids in Africa who didn’t have water. She ranted about how they have to walk to the well just to wash up. And then – she exploded with indignation as she told me – they have to wash using rocks and pebbles. They don’t even have soap! I think the lack of soap spoke to her more than anything.

For a child who, I’m pretty sure, rarely uses soap because it “smells too comfortable” (insert confused shrug here; your guess is as good as mine), I was surprised this hit home with her. But hey, whatever it takes.

The Value of Money

On good days, My Girl understands that she has it better than most, and she’s is pretty good at saying thank you. She’s very generous (see how generosity and sharing has backfired on us though), but she’s a kid.

On more than one recent occasion, she has said “My life is so terrible!” You want to see this momma go from zero to sixty on the temper scale, that will do it.

And she’s not so great with understanding the value of money; though I think her 8-year-old mind is slowly understanding socio economic classes.

One day, as she was playing in one room and I was telling her to clean up the other one (see? spoiled!), she told me she knew she was lucky to have so many toys.

“If we were on the Titanic, we would be second-class passengers.”

She’s not wrong. Also, I don’t have enough room in this post to explain My Girl’s fascination with the Titanic (to be clear: the actual historic event, not the movie).

A lesson in dollars and potatoes

As a graduate with an English degree, not only have I convinced My Girl that I have the right and diploma to allow me to make up words, I also rely heavily on literature for life lessons. So as we read through Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy one night, I latched on to the lesson that Father was teaching Almanzo in regards to the value of money.

Let me paraphrase: Father gave Almanzo a half-dollar (which, by the way, My Girl thought was fake money), and explained to him the steps in which it takes to get a half dollar:

  1. Seed potatoes
  2. Manure the fields
  3. Plow
  4. Plant
  5. Plow again
  6. Hoe potatoes
  7. Hoe potatoes a second time
  8. Dig up potatoes
  9. Store in the cellar
  10. Pick thoughout the winter to get rid of small and rotten potatoes
  11. Load potatoes on buggy
  12. Haul them into town to sell

Whew! I’m tired just typing it out. Unfortunately, we don’t plant our own potatoes in this household, but I tried using this example for My Girl anyways – especially to explain the work it takes to buy the clothes that she so easily ruins. Crawling around on her hands and knees on the playground while pretending to be a momma cheetah looking for her lost, adopted snow leopard baby takes its tolls on the knees of all her leggings.

I ran into a problem though. While My Girl knows I work at a bank, she’s not very clear on what I do exactly. So the example of working hard to earn a dollar is less effective if your child thinks you give out suckers for a living.

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