Overindulging: What’s Best for Our Children?

Young boy (6-7) about to destroy toy car, girl (3-4) crying, mother sitting in armchair

As parents, we want what’s best for our children. But as a parent I’ve experienced the urge to provide experiences and material possessions that I wasn’t fortunate enough to have had as a child and as an adult I have the financial means to provide for my child.  I have learned that this urge needs to counter with the question of “what is best?”.

How do we know what’s best? I ask myself this question every birthday, and every holiday.  I have used a couple questions to keep my urge to give under control.  The first question I ask is “Is this gift or experience good for them?”   In other words, does giving this gift promote or prevent learning?  Then I evaluate the financial impact that this gift will have on our family budget.  Does it use too many family resources that should be used or saved for something else?  College isn’t many years away even for an infant.  Even little purchases add up over the years.  The last question I consider is that of need.  Is the gift something I want?  Does it benefit me more than my child?  Am I using the gift as a way to compensate for time, I wish I had spent with my child?

Overindulging and buying too much has become epidemic among parents. As parents we need to question our purchases and respond with moderation and mindfulness.  Even with good intentions, the results of giving too much can be harmful.

Janet Smith

Janet Smith

Janet Smith is a Human Science Specialist-Family LIfe with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She currently provides family life programming in eight counties in southeast Iowa. Janet is a "parenting survivor". She is the mother of Jared-21, Hannah-20, and Cole-15. She and her husband, David have faced many challenges together, including their son Jared's Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy diagnosis.

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