Spoiled childI’ve never thought of CVS as such a place of temptation, especially for a 2 year old. Yet my son seemed to find something of interest on every aisle, from a bag of candy to Elmo bandaids, to coloring books and greeting cards with cartoons on the front. He even whined a bit when I put back a bottle of pills he had snatched from the bottom shelf and began shaking.

Luckily a grandparent was not with us or he would have walked out with a coloring book, or perhaps the me-sized Mickey Mouse I saw from the corner of my eye on the way out. Thank God my son kept his head turned toward the opposite aisle and hadn’t noticed it earlier.

I would expect such battles at a toy store or candy shop, but at a drug store? Lately it happens everywhere, including the grocery store and the post office. This leads me to wonder: 1) Are we naturally wired to want so much? and 2) Was I this wanty as a child?

This is probably the hardest struggle I face in this phase of parenting. Just like any loving mother, I want my son to enjoy life and to have not only all his needs met but some luxuries as well. But at what point does it all become too much? When there is no room for more toys? When he has so many clothes that he grows out of outfits he has never worn?

How do I show my love and allow my son to enjoy and appreciate material things without making them a priority and resulting in him becoming a spoiled brat? Not to mention the fact that he is an only grandchild to three sets of grandparents (which doesn’t help his odds).

I don’t know the absolute answer to that question, but it is something I ask myself daily. Maybe there is no absolute answer, as the answer may vary on a case-by-case basis. Every time my son cries for a coloring book I have a split second to decide. It’s almost as if I have a Mommy Conscience angel and devil pair sitting on my shoulders. The only trouble is . . . which is the angel and which is the devil?

“It’s only $2,” I consider. “But I want him to know he can’t get something anytime he wants it.”

These thoughts and more run through my mind as the angel and devil spin around my head like those cartoon birds that indicate someone has experienced a blow to the brain. Most of the time I err on the side of making him put down whatever he wants. I’m not sure if this is due to my frugal nature or the over-looming fear that he will be a spoiled brat.

I believe in positive reinforcement and often give him little treats like stickers for being good or doing something he was told. However, I can’t help but think of how long it will take for stickers to become silly and for him to want bigger, better “prizes.” Just like I went from wanting a toy horse, to a real horse, to a car with lots of horsepower.

I was given a lot of material possessions as a child, and I honestly have no good reason for turning out as a frugal and minimalist person. Sometimes I am sure I acted like a brat, and sometimes I am sure I was truly grateful. And like every other area in life, I have to step back and decide what I think is best for my son. Sometimes it is what my parents did for me, and sometimes it is the opposite. And sometimes it hits somewhere in between.

Unless we move to a third world country or become Amish, I suppose the concept of “What is too much?” will always be an issue in parenting. The best answer I have found so far is to hopefully teach him to be thankful for everything, from food and clothes to all the little extras. I want him to grow up knowing that although others have way more than us, many more have much less than us. I want him to enjoy his possessions, but also be able to put them down and let them go, possibly forever, if needed.

So fellow parents, keep me in your prayers for this matter, as I will everyone of you. For now I will try to savor in the fact that a sticker is the same as a Silverado at this age, and he will know no different if most of his “Christmas” goes into his college fund.

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