Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Privilege of Wanting

I came from a home that was actually pretty well off. I didn't realize it. I thought we were living the way everyone lived. But looking back I can now see that we had everything we needed and a lot of the things we wanted. My dad made a good living for our family and the first time I fully realized it was when I married my preacher husband. I have decided that my dad didn't really do me a favor. It was hard to learn how to budget and save and not have things just because I wanted them. And it was hard when I had children to not be able to buy them everything that was cute and fun and adorable. But I learned my lessons. And my children grew up knowing how hard it is to make ends meet all the time.

I remember one time as a young mom listening to a radio broadcast of Focus on the Family. Dr. Dobson was talking about how today's kids have everything including cell phones, tv's in their rooms, the latest version of video games, and on and on and on. And then he said something that really stuck with me. He said that today's kids have every privilege EXCEPT for the privilege of wanting. He took his listeners back to the days of when a kid wanted something so very badly they were willing to work and save and earn to get it. And when they got it - they truly appreciated it.

It was about the time of listening to this broadcast and trying to grasp how wanting could be a privilege when my daughter Jessica, who was about 6 years old at the time, spotted a very expensive doll she decided she wanted. A fabric shop that I loved to browse through happened to be next door to a doll store in a strip mall. We walked in there one day and Jessica, who loved all her little babies, felt she was instantly in heaven. And she found a beautiful real-life looking doll that she absolutely fell in love with. All I saw was the price tag: $100. I immediately thought of the good advice from Dr. Dobson and I struck a deal with her. I told her if she could come up with $50 I would match it. Now I have to tell you that I never for a minute believed she could come up with $50. And that was why I wasn't worried over the fact that I didn't think I could come up with $50 either. But I underestimated my little entrepreneur! This particular doll store had a lay-away program. And the clerk kindly informed us that she could put this doll on lay-away for $5 and they would hold it for her as long as we needed. And they told her she could come and visit her baby whenever she wanted. (Very smart marketing ploy!) So we put $5 down and I truly thought she would forget all about it. Well, my little daughter went to work. Everyone she came across at church and at home were asked if they had any jobs for her to do. She raked leaves for grandma, she did dishes, she put laundry away. She worked and worked and worked. And it was all by her own doing. And it didn't take me long to realize I was going to have to find $50. We would go back to town and put her earnings down on the doll and she would have some good visitation time with her little foster baby!

I felt so proud of Jess for working so hard for something she wanted. And I felt so good watching her do it. It took her about 3 months and she had kept her end of the bargain. We were so impressed that we found an extra $50 from our tight budget and I kept my end of the bargain. And it was such a happy day when we brought that little baby doll home! I can truly say that never have I felt so good about my child receiving a "thing". No Christmas or birthday present I ever gave felt as rewarding as that doll did. And I'm still not sure who learned more with this experience: her or me. Today she is still a worker and a saver. I have watched her say no to things she really wanted because she knew it wouldn't be a wise investment. Is it all because of the doll saving program? Probably not completely. But I like to think it had something to do with it. And I know that because we didn't/couldn't indulge our children with everything they wanted, if their futures don't hold a lot of financial security, they will have one less adjustment to make.


Becky said...

I was raised EXACTLY that way. I purchased many things through life by paying half. The only difference was that they other half, although provided by my mama and daddy, was for a birthday or Christmas gift.

Not a bad deal. And you know, in comparison to what I have seen with others, I think we kids took better care of our things because we had an investment in them.

You go Jessica! I'll bet she will raise her kids the same way.

Angie said...

Robin that is so neat! Jessica is a smart cookie!
I love the inspiring ways Dr. Dobson helps me to understand family/raising children/living the life before others! I want to see a picture of the doll!

Becky said...

Robin, thanks for praying for me. I actually feel a bit better this evening but I am going to bed early. I have quilted my fingers to the bone today and they are sore. I have to put it up for awhile.

Sonya said...

What a great story! Our 13 yo is currently saving for a laptop. We told her we would match what she saved also. I grew up not getting everything I wanted and I'm glad of that.

Chappyswife said...

Hi, Robin! I just love Dr. Dobson, don't you? I am sure your daughter's doll meant so much more to her since she had to work and save and wait for it.

This is such an important lesson and wouldn't be so hard to teach if more parents would do the same.

Dawn said...

I LOVE this story! I was raised in a parsonage, so we had very little in the way of material things. But we never knew it. I grew up with a great money management ethic, and work ethic as well.

My son always wanted the most expensive shoes (still does) - Nike Air, etc. I told him I would pay what we could get for a normal priced shoe and if he could come up with the rest, he could have them. He always did somehow!

I am so glad to hear that your ladies did the Chocolate Boutique. We didn't have enough time, and wish it could have been longer. I led the first session and was sad I wasn't sitting in one of the small groups. Those small group sessions were powerful!

pei girl said...

what a wonderful post Robin and I give the credit to you and your approach on how you handled the decision of how your daughter could get the doll what an awesome mom you are (hugs from the Island)
I bet your daughter enjoyed this doll more than an others have an awesome day Robin:0)

Julie Fink said...

What a wonderful article!

Halfmoon Girl said...

great post. We are trying to raise our children in the same way.

Karen said...

I love the way you told this story. Jessica learned a beautiful lesson. We had a similar situation with my daughter last year, when she was 10. I agreed to pay half when she saved her half -- I wish it had been a doll. What she wanted was frogs!

I remember a similar deal my dad made with me when I was 12 years old. I babysat to earn my share to buy a 10-speed bike -- canary yellow! -- and he matched me. I was so proud of myself, and I loved that he had the confidence in me and was so proud of me too!

Great lessons!