12 April 2009

They can't always have what they want

A saying I've heard from other parents is "they have to learn that they can't always have what they want" and I wonder what explanation they would give if asked why. I hadn't really questioned this idea before I had Sunnyboy, but now it seems an odd statement to make. It's such a deeply entrenched theory and how much so was demonstrated to me this weekend when I overheard our young neighbour talking to her friend about Sunnyboy. "His mum gives him whatever he wants. He says he wants an ice-cream and she says OK." This concept was clearly totally baffling to her.

I see my role as helping to facilitate Sunnyboy in getting what he wants. I trust him to follow his own guidance in making decisions about what he wants to do and that he is the expert in knowing what he needs and desires. When there are obstacles in the way of him achieving this I can help him find solutions and, in situations where we want different things, help us to reach common preferences. I want Sunnyboy to grow up with a sense of abundance, not of scarcity, and I hope that by helping him get what he wants I am helping him to believe that anything is possible.


  1. "they have to learn that they can't always have what they want"

    This is true. They do have to learn that they won't always get what they want.

    This doesn't mean that I set them up for that situation by arbitrarily, it means that when that situation comes up I am there to help them learn to handle it.

    In other words, if we're at the store and my girls want ice cream cones and I have the money for it, I get them ice cream cones. If we don't have the money for it, we don't have the money for it and they do have to accept that. But I don't tell them that we don't have the money for it while I'm buying myself a magazine that costs the same as four ice cream cones either, kwim?

    In other words, yeah, I agree with your post. lol

  2. Sarah, I agree completely. Life presents natural limits, boundaries and consequences that children will learn from and my job is to support sunnyboy in this, not to impose my own limits in order to teach him they exist.

    I also want to help him find solutions so he will be able to deal with these natural limits and still get what he wants. So, for example, our solution to the ice-cream expense was to keep a big tub of affordable ice-cream in our freezer so if we are out and don't have enough money for one he is happy knowing that we've got all the ice-cream he could want at home.

  3. I am at a loss with all the different parenting advice. I say, do what works for you.

  4. I remember growing up and my mother teling me, "Money don't grow on trees. We are not rich." I can honestly say that thought pattern has stuck with me all my life until now and sometimes I still struggle with it. Now, it's a matter of, "Do I deserve it? Yes, I do, no matter the quality or the quantity." I accept all that I am able to receive and I teach my little one that too.

    I'm with Se'Lah, I'm also lost so I say do what works for you.

  5. Se'Lah yes I know what you mean :) This way of relating works for me and sunnyboy so it seems strange to me that the prevailing parenting advice says I should deprive him of getting what he wants in order to teach him that he won't get it. Actually it seems to me that, because he knows that I will help him get what he really wants, he often asks for very little (if anything) when we are out shopping for instance.

    Vchelle, yes I still struggle with the same thought pattern too. I love your way of looking at it. It's so important to be able to receive. That funny statement about money not growing on trees makes me laugh now since I heard someone point out that money is paper and paper comes from trees :)

  6. I think the "they can't always have what they want" idea goes along with the if you hold them you will spoil them, etc non sense.

    I don't want my kids to think that they can have every material thing that catches their fancy (and Sam wants everything she sees on TV), but there is no reason why they can't have as much as they want of everything else.

  7. Jennifer, I think that's very true. The whole theory that babies and children will manipulate us, so we have to make sure we don't allow them to expect too much and make sure they get used to doing without.

    I also feel that if babies and childrens needs and wants are met early on they are less likely to be materialistic and demand material things to fill the unmet needs that still exist.