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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Have nots

Posted August 31, 2014

I think one of the most challenging things about raising children is keeping them grounded in the midst of our materialistic society where many of us live charmed lives. We have houses, food on the table, clothes, good schools and jobs that make it all possible.

For the most part, my children are being raised the way I was. They have everything they need and sometimes get things they want, but not always.

My teenager does chores to earn money and then we negotiate. If she really wants something, I will often meet her halfway and we each pay 50 percent. Other times, I simply say: "If you want it you pay for it."

I still recall the fliers I put up in my neighborhood when I was a young teen for my "services" which included babysitting, dog walking and plant watering.

In my later high school years, I worked at a bank, waitressed and worked in retail. In college, I worked in the campus jobs that the work-study students didn't want - cafeteria cashier, food line server...

At the time, I am sure I didn't truly appreciate what my parents did for me, what I learned from these early work experiences, but now I do.

"How come I have to share a bathroom with my sister and my friends have their own bathrooms?" my teenager asks me for the hundredth time in her angst-laden lilt followed by a champion eye roll.

"Because it builds character," I reply with more than a hint of sarcasm,

It's a conversation we've had many times not just about the bathroom but about the size of our house, her bedroom and the car she will inherit when she drives (mine: 2009 with 100,000 miles). And, to be honest, I do believe not having everything you want and having to work for what you want does build character.

But, more importantly, we have to find ways in our blessed lives to teach kids it's not what you have but who you are on the inside and how you treat others in this world that is the true measure of success.

"I have an idea," I say to my still sulking teen. "Why don't you work really hard in school, go to college, get a great job and then buy Mommy and Daddy a big house with a lot of bathrooms. Oh, and maybe some fancy new cars too. What do you think?"

Cue eye roll ...

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.

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  • jabbo22 Sep 2, 2014

    Amanda, I totally love this article! We raised our girls the same way. And once they hit high school, we no longer paid for social events or gas for fun. Still paid for school & church & family stuff. And surprisingly, they now wonder about their friends who "had more" and how they will adjust to being on their own, budgeting money, etc. They drive old cars and love to shop yard sales and thrift stores for deals on the things they want. Still in college, we supply their needs, but slowly they are taking some of these over too. So proud of my girls! So keep up the good work and you'll see, they will "get it"!