Log in Newsletter

Give Them Everything

         How many times have you said, “I want to give my kids everything I didn’t have growing up.” If you are like me, it is too many times to count. I think each generation says that about their kids...and I think that it is natural for parents to want their children to have a better quality of life than they had. These thoughts ran across my mind the other day when my children asked me, “Dad, what was it like for you growing up?” As I reflected back to childhood, I remember it was filled with love and laughter. However, as I examined a little closer, I also realized that my parents worked their fingers to the bone. As a child I didn’t realize that we were considered the “working poor.” I remember watching my father load furniture in the back of tractor-trailers for more than 20 years and my mother work jobs for little pay. Although my parents did not make a lot of money, we never went without the necessities and always had a roof over our head, food on the table and clothes on our back. My parents made sure we participated in sports all year long, in school events and we (my older sister and I) had as much fun as we could. We went to family gatherings monthly and played with our cousins and other extended family. We weren’t living the “lifestyles of the rich and famous,” but being from a rural area in North Carolina where you worked Monday through Friday like a dog, catching up with family and friends on Saturdays and spending all day in church on Sundays was the way of life, at least for our family.

          We grew up in a brown and off white single wide white trailer outside the city limits of Asheboro, North Carolina. The closest grocery store was miles away and what seemed like hours as a kid. We had to wait until the holidays or the new school year to get new shoes and clothes, if we got them at all. As a family, we shared one box of cereal, which was usually whatever was on sale that week. It may not have seemed like we didn’t have much, materialistically speaking, because we were happy. Life was simple and though we didn’t have much, we had each other.

          As I continued my reflection, I started comparing my childhood to my children’s childhood. I try really hard to make sure my kids have all of the things I wish I had or had access to as a child. Looking at the life they are afforded, I’ve come to realize they are able to have things I could only dream of, go places I never thought possible and eat at restaurants we could never afford. I have accomplished my goal as a dad. I have given them the things I didn’t have. Then I thought, “But am I giving them things I did have?” “Am I spending the time with them that they need?“ “Do I spend too much time working?” “Do I take them to church on Sunday?” “Am I allowing them to make memories?” “What will they say about their childhood, or better yet, “What will they say about me?” All questions I think every parent should ask themselves.

          As parents in this day and age, it is so easy to spend money on things to keep our children busy and out of our hair. Instead of reading a book with our child, we toss them a Kindle. Instead of going outside to play catch, we let them play baseball on a game system. We all want our children to be happy and content, but we should not forget that a part of our happiness as children were our parents, family and friends. For me, the most important thing is a good RELATIONSHIP with my kids. I want them to be able to talk to me and come to me about anything. This is something that requires time and time is something you cannot buy, replace or get back. Ask yourself, “What will my kids say about me?” and “What will they say about their childhood?” Make sure your kids feel like they are worth your time. Give them not only what you didn’t have growing up, but what you did have.