I like to find teachable moments whenever I can.
Every Wednesday is payday so I go into Wichita to buy groceries. Tanner had some money left from Christmas, and decided he wanted to look at GameStop. So after lunch, the boys and I headed into town. Going "shopping" together is not something we usually do, as they are just happy to let me pick out new shoes or jeans for them when they need them.
Tanner found the used game for a good price, and was very happy to know he would have some money left over. Across the room he spotted a plush-toy that he informed me was rare, and another plush for his collection that was on clearance for under $3.00. The look on his face was priceless! He had saved his money until he was sure of what he wanted to buy, found it at a good price, and still had enough for two other toys to add to the collection he had been carefully building for years.
On the way home, I told him I was proud of the choices he was making, how he was careful about how he spent his money and how he took care of his things.
At a very young age, my boys were always careful with their toys. They did not throw them or leave them outside or treat them roughly. As they grew older, they took care of their movies...then DVD's....then electronics and games. I never felt like I bought them a gift they wouldn't take care of or didn't deserve. I also never bought them a toy or game "just because". Gifts only came on holidays or birthdays for our family.
We were lucky to live near Columbus, GA from 2000 to 2006 because at that time I seemed to find the best deals on toys. Every spring, all the stores in the city would price their toys at real discounts (remember when clearance really meant more than a dollar off?) I would get the boys each a gift for their birthdays and holidays for the whole year (and for my nieces and nephews) and save a substantial amount of money. I could have spent more on them, but I didn't. One modest gift for each occasion was enough....and because of the early shopping, I was able to get them good quality toys, too.
Taking a huge garbage bag and cleaning broken toys and trash out of my kid's rooms was never needed. Items in their possession rarely broke. Their rooms stayed clean.
Now Tanner is about to be 16 and Tristen is about to be 18, and when you've been taking care of your possessions, and only buy things that are really truly wanted, it is easy to accumulate a lot. Moving often helped us to weed out the toys they outgrew them. With tears ( only mom's) we said 'good-bye' to Bob the Builder, Blue's Clue's, Dora, Care Bears and Veggie Tales. (I kept all the Thomas trains for myself).
Tristen and Tanner know how blessed they are to have as much as they do, and they show this by not only being respectful of their things, but also by sharing with others. Often times, they will use their birthday or Christmas money to buy each other a gift, just to see the smile on their face. We continue to keep our gift-giving very minimal to ensure they are meaningful. And since my kids take care of what they have, end up having a lot in the end.
Just because they have a lot, doesn't mean I will stop buying them appropriate gifts. I don't believe they should be punished, and have to get rid of their things they have cared for, just because of the sheer volume.
Their rooms stay spotless. They do their chores every day with out being asked. They are respectful and love their family.
Neither of my teenagers own a functioning cell phone. They don't have tablets or Ipads. Tanner has a savings account to buy his own computer.
Tanner asked his dad if he could have one of his old game systems for a birthday gift this year.
I don't believe for a moment my kids are spoiled. Very blessed, but not spoiled.