The Battle of the Wants
In our media driven society, being the right kind of mom is impossible. Feed your kids the healthiest food, but don’t go overboard and be that mom who always asks about ingredients. Don’t let your children dictate your life, but listen every time they have something to say! It is such a struggle to find the right balance in these kinds of things, especially when you hear a debate of what is the best looping over the loudspeaker in your head. One of the biggest issues that I go back and forth about is the wants.
“But I don’t want that!” “May I go? I WANT to go!” “You never give me what I want!”
On the one hand, as parents, we want our kids to be happy and associate their childhood and us, of course, with positive things. I am a piano teacher, and I am all too familiar with the stereotype of forced piano lessons for years that promise to build resentment and malaise for both the piano and the parents. None of us want that kind of relationship for/with our children. On the other hand, we simply do not always get what we want in life. Success on any level takes work. As kids, as adults, even as Americans, try as we might, there are many realities far out of our control and always will be. Expecting different often sets us up for all sorts of failures and can cause us to miss out on fantastic times of growth and learning.
So, this is me. All. The. Time.
I honestly recognize there must be balance and I see the foolishness of letting the pendulum swing too far in either direction, but it can be challenging to know when to disregard the “I don’t want to” and when to facilitate those desires intentionally. It can be especially hard around the holidays because, whether you can financially accommodate it or not, one or both parents probably have a sincere desire to see their family happy and excited, whether about gifts or outings of some kind. How often do we stretch that budget farther than it should go for some excitement factor only to regret it when the bills come in January? When we get stuck on the wanting fence, we must first set our boundaries and life values. Of course, let the moral values preside, but after those are clear, look at budgets, time, and relationships. A want should not outweigh life values without a greater reason than just because I want. Sometimes no is inevitable once we have considered how much it costs or requires of us. When the moral or genuinely limiting issues are ruled out, consider the individual needs, or goals. For example, when a child is saving money for a larger toy for himself or has an opportunity to help out a friend, but is suddenly drowning in the temptation of the want, it is the perfect opportunity for a life lesson. Choosing not to facilitate both options for them equips them for the choices they may face daily as adults.
The media’s perception of the perfect parent making every “right” choice is not unlike Bigfoot; it does not exist most days. The good news is that in wrestling with our options, we usually end up fulfilling the wants that matter the most by default.
Amy Butler is a disciple of Christ, the wife of an engineer, mother of three, part time piano teacher and a lover of nature. Writing is where all of her passions come together as she struggles to find the WRITE Balance.