A social media post by a mother under the name “notgoodenoughforthis” has sparked a discussion on what kids really need.
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These of course are the easier questions to answer. As they grow older, the questions get harder. Especially when we’re feeling pretty low ourselves: Am I present enough? Do they have everything they need? Am I a lousy parent compared to all the other moms?
The fact is, if you’re asking yourself these questions then the likelihood is you are a pretty great parent. And this was recently put to the test on Mumsnet, a UK parenting site, when a mom wrote a lengthy post revealing her feelings of inadequacy as a parent. Interestingly she calls herself “notgoodenoughforthis” and starts her thread with this question: “I feel crushed with guilt because my children don’t really have financial stability. Anyone else?” She then goes on to list all her financial “failings” that let her children down, and make her a bad mom. She listed everything from renting rather than owning the family home, and having debt, to not being able to give her kids lots of Christmas presents.
She says: “I’m a failure, aren’t I? … It’s all my fault. I feel ashamed and embarrassed I can’t give my children all the joys and niceties other children get from their parents.” She ended with: “I do nice things with them. I try to make up for what I can’t give them materially. But somehow, I feel it just doesn’t match up.”
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But her online community rallied around her, affirming she is a great mom and giving her some very sound advice—that we all have little moments of feeling inadequate because we can’t afford what we think our children need.
One woman who posted describes working on the Bethany Project, a Christian project helping orphans in East Africa who have been left with absolutely nothing yet seem extremely content in life, and reminds us of the essential: “Material possessions do not raise good people. You are doing your best. Be proud of that.” Another mom reminds us that in our increasingly-materialistic world “the most important things are love, affection and spending time together: those make you a winner, not what you buy.”
And another brought up the fundamentals: “Your kids are happy and loved. They have emotional stability and security.” This is backed up by another post: “Love and security in abundance. As long as they have you, they will always have those things. No matter where you might live or go on holiday.”
So if you’re a mom who feels a failure, know you are giving your kids what they need, but you’re also doing them a favor. There are many long-lasting effects of overindulging children, including dependency, irresponsibility, and disrespect. Pediatrician Bruce J. McIntosh also maintains that “spoiled children can be insensitive to the needs of others” and therefore might be unpopular. Not the type of characteristics we would want in our kids. So before we get carried away with trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” we must ask ourselves do our kids really need that latest game system, or a new shiny bike? This fear generally only leads to incurring debt and stress.
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As parents, our duty is to try to instill in our kids a feeling of gratitude for everything they have—no easy task with the those enticing commercials bombarding our kids we know! And this is something they can learn from our own behavior: We don’t need to rush to buy the new and improved smartphone when our present one is working a treat; we could stop complaining about what we don’t have and show how grateful we are for what we do have; and get involved with others who really are less fortunate than ourselves—that always puts things in perspective.
A final note to notgoodenoughforthis (and your community): thanks for reminding us that what children really crave is our time, love, and the feeling that no matter what happens to them we have their backs. And that just cannot be bought.
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