On the Raising of Children

I don’t know when it came up, but I was talking recently to a big-wig here at the company about the spoiling of children. I was really poking him in jest, because I knew he had his brood in a private school.. and mostly because I knew he could take it. I don’t just poke any big-wig. I carefully pick my pokeable ones.

(snicker snicker snicker)(am twelve at heart)

I was surprised to find out, however, that his kids don’t drive new or even recently-new cars. And then he gave me some of the most amazing parenting advice ever: “Kids don’t need stuff. They need two things: experience and education. We spend our money on their education and giving them worldly experiences.”

And I was all like WHOA.

Because we fail there, I think. A lot. Typically, I would be inclined to say “I fail there”, but this one is a cojoined effort. Bryan and I both work outside of the house – and we work HARD – so when we get home.. we’re tired. And it’s entirely too easy to say, “Let’s watch a movie” and then pop on some Netflix Instant something or other. And I think, really I do, that Tony needs that time to wind-down, too. After a full day of daycare, he needs some time to shut his brain off and be quiet.

But that piece – education and experiences – really resonated with me. It’s why I didn’t hesitate to haul the boys to Chattanooga for the weekend in April and take through both aquariums AND Rock City. Dude, that was NOT a cheap trip. But they’ll remember it. Tony STILL talks about it.

And it’s hard because “education & experience” takes financial planning, and .. we suck at that too. It’s a lot easier to pick up “stuff” on payday and feel like a good parent than it is to squirrel money away for a cool trip. But I think we’re working towards just that, looking at a beach vacation as the summer wraps up. Figuring out how to get away for weekends at a time instead of a big chunk of vacation. Being smarter with money.

The boys don’t need name brand clothes, or a million versions of even off-brand outfits. They don’t need more video games or more Transformers. (BumbleBee has made a grand appearance in our lives now. Hooray.) They need to go see things, breathe different air, try new foods, meet interesting people.

I don’t remember toys growing up. I do, however, remember every family trip we took to Panama City Beach, or the year we spent a few weeks in St. Louis, or the many many trips to Dothan. I firmly believe we are placing priority in the wrong things in the raising of our children, and Blog as my witness, we are about the change that.

(Y’all are to keep me accountable, FYI.)

What was your FAVORITE family experience growing up?