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When you realize you can influence what your children think and believe, you can find serenity. No matter what you value, there are simple ways to teach your children to share your family values.
If you frame the story correctly, your children will value what you teach them is important.
Take a look at two children’s birthday parties I attended recently with my daughters. The first party was at the child’s home. It was beautiful home with an above ground pool, an acre of land and the usual accoutrements of a $3 million home. The parents purchased bikes and scooters for the children to use during the party. They hired someone to help supervise and run the party games. The party games reminded me of Survivor and Fear Factor. There was a scavenger hunt for 24 items. The party ended with gourmet sandwiches, fruit kabobs, mixed drinks and a beautiful cake. A gift bag of delightful treasures was given to each child as a parting gift. This was all for a two hours long for a child turning 8 years old.
The second party was held at the apartment building where the child lived. The entire party was 8 girls playing in the apartment building’s outdoor pool. There was no party theme. The entire set of decorations was 4 helium balloons. The girls spent two and one half hours jumping in and out of the pool chasing each other and singing silly songs playing on the father’s smartphone. The party snacks were grapes, cheese crackers and juice boxes. The birthday girl celebrated with an ice cream cake from a local supermarket. Each girl left the party with a few dollar store treats.
Later my girls talked about the two parties. While they liked both parties, the second party was the overwhelming favorite. When I asked why I was told, “Because it wasn’t complicated. We just got to pay and have fun. We didn’t have to work hard to have fun.” My girls enjoyed the first party. They enjoyed the second party more because it emphasized what they had been taught to value – people, relationships and friendship.
The point of describing these two parties is not to say that you don’t need money to have a good time. The point is also not to say our kids are better off with only simple things. The point is that our children can have a good time based upon the way we set the stage and manage expectations.
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