If there is one thing I want for my kids, it’s for them to value experience over possessions. I believe that to live fearlessly, and to be balanced, you need to let go of desire for material things. Things don’t bring you happiness… craving things is a form of misery.
I’ve always tried to instil in my kids that “things” have very little meaning. At the end of the day it’s our experiences that we remember. And certainly, it’s the events in our life that shape us… New computer games and toys have no value. Experience does. Quite frankly, things bore me and people who are obsessed by acquiring things bore me even more.
I’m very fortunate that my ex-husband is on the same page as me. The kids never walk in from his house holding the latest out-of-proportion present, so co-parenting in this style is very easy. His birthday and Christmas presents to the kids are always rock concerts. My sons, who are both rock music obsessed, have seen everyone from Coldplay to Matchbox Twenty. Hard to beat KISS and Motley Crew apparently, but Aerosmith and Van Halen apparently came close.
The boys have always had these experiences from their dad, and I usually get them something to open on their birthday. Because that’s what kids want, right?
Not my kids. Not any more.
My son just turned 9. A few months before his birthday we had a conversation that went like this:
HIM: “Mummy, for my birthday… I don’t want a “thing”… I have enough things…Can I have an experience instead?”
ME: “Sure honey, that’s an awesome idea.”
HIM: “Just not parachuting. I don’t want to skydive…”
ME: “Okay, I’ll keep that in mind.”
My older son had given up the idea of “presents” a few years ago. His 12th birthday present was a music festival, his 13th was a right of passage camp, and his last birthday was more music workshops.
Now my younger son wanted the same thing… And I’ve got to say I’m thrilled. You know those moments, those rare gems, when you receive confirmation as a parent that you must be doing something right? This was one for me.
And so, my son’s 9th birthday arrived and off we went, for his “experience.” He didn’t know what it was until we got there. We had a fabulous experience together… It was the best experience ever apparently, although he tends to embrace every experience with equal enthusiasm. And that is the point, isn’t it?