This family rule may seem selfish and childish on the surface but it gets deep. Let me explain. Do only what makes you happy is a view for our future. Children do what feels good in the moment but doing what makes you happy helps you to think of the future. Will this truly make me happy? How will I feel about it tomorrow? A year from now? 10 years from now?
My prayer for my children is that they become wise in all things. Children see more than we think they see so when you model materialism, selfishness and immediate gratification, that is exactly who they turn into. Only they do it 2ce as well. We all want the best for our children so let’s start by asking ourselves the same questions. Will this actually make me happy?
I want to make something clear here, I am not saying don’t buy your child toys or that cute top that is a little more than you expected to pay. Children should understand that they should splurge a little bit if they really like something. However! I am saying that they do not need every single little thing because it will entertain them for 5 minutes and then end up in the bottom of their toy box. They do not need that cute top if it is going to break your budget.
My children work on commission. They have household chores that they do because they are a part of this family, helping with laundry, dishes and basic picking up and cleaning. They live here just like I do, they consume and dirty up the place, they can help keep it tidy. They also have ‘above and beyond’ chores they do, they help me with a side gig I have that I pay them for, they work for family and sometimes friends. They can make money any time they choose. If they want that video game or that shirt or that toy, they can buy it! Even my 4 year old can buy herself play-doh because she left out the one she got for her birthday, now it’s dry and needs to be replaced.
A funny thing happens when they have to spend their own money on these items, they don’t really want them anymore and they start taking better care of the things they do have because they don’t want to have to replace them. They understand mom works for the money that is spent on things. I never make them feel guilty, but I do make them think.
Look to the Future
Doing what makes you happy, really truly happy, makes your life better. Making a choice now that feels good in the moment may not be the best for tomorrow or 10 years from now. Making a choice that may not feel all-that-great in the moment just might make you happier tomorrow…and 10 years from now.
Let’s say your daughter really wants a shirt that is well over what you budgeted for school clothes. You just bought her an entire wardrobe but this one shirt she just HAS to have to be ‘happy.’ You know she will only be able to wear it for the next 6 months because she is growing like a weed and when the weather warms up it will end up in a box to be given away.
Scenario one is you buy her that shirt. You don’t have the money for something else in your budget now. What did you give up for your family? Food? Savings? Giving? Think about how that will impact your family as a whole. If it impacted your savings what else did you put off? What were you saving for that is certainly more important than a shirt? I am not trying to sound like your daughter’s wants are not important but in this case, you are literally choosing a shirt over something else that will impact your future.
Scenario two is you don’t buy her that shirt. She goes to school in one of the many other articles of clothing you just bought her that gave her confidence when she tried them on, she gets compliments on them which solidifies her confidence. In 6 months you are able to buy her some summer clothes because your budget has been right on track. She will get a confidence boost in those new clothes and she is a better person a year from now because she has now had 2 confidence boosts instead of 1 shirt.
This is a simplistic example, of course, but I hope you see my point. Things don’t make us happy. Choices that affect our future in a positive way make us happy.
Choosing which friends make us happy is more important than buying things we don’t need. Surrounding yourself with people that make you feel good in the moment can be detrimental in all aspects of the word. This choice is sometimes very difficult but remember that you are able to love someone even if you have to keep them distant from you. Just because you don’t allow them to make an impact in your life right now doesn’t mean that if they start making better choices themselves, you can’t accept them into your life later. Even celebrate with them when you meet them on a positive path for their life as well as yours.
Instead surround yourself with people who are good for you. When you are happy and proud of the people they are and you would love to be on the same path they are on, you should keep them close to you. The saying is true, you are who you hang around with. Something happens when you hang out with someone, your path and their path start to become closer and closer. Your children should understand that. It’s your job to make sure you repeat yourself-a lot!- so they make friend choices that will make them happy. And avoid the friends that make them ‘feel good.’
Let Them Make Their Choices
When our children are little we have to make choices for them. What they eat, what clothes they wear, their friends (who are really our friend’s children). As they grow we have to be conscious to slowly allow them to make choices that we could agree with or not. As they make more and more decisions on their own you can speak into their lives, help them determine what’s best, but ultimately they will start making the final decision on their own.
It’s very hard to watch your child make the decision that you might not have made for them. Eventually, you will have to watch them make bad choices. Let them! Unless it is completely destructive and you should discipline them, allow them to make mistakes and stumble. Let them learn from their mistakes-how else do you learn? It’s better that they stumble when they are living with you and you are able to catch them, help them heal, than never having any freedom in your home and stumble on their own. No one catches you out in the real world.
In 10 Years
We can all learn something here (or relearn it). Living in the moment is so important but when it comes to making decisions that will make us happy, ask yourself how it will affect you in 10 years. Is it a waste of time, money, and energy? Will it make your life better 10 years from now? Will it benefit you? Benefit your children? How? It seems like a lot to think about but with practice, you will start to make better decisions… and so will your children.
This book really put things in perspective for me. I HIGHLY recommend it!
Teach Them What Happy Is
Be An Example
Let Them Hurt
Peace and Balance,