Who is truly rich or poor?
In December 2016, my Facebook page was flooded with vacation news and photos from friends. The wealthy parents took their kids overseas. Some travelled abroad two to three times in a month! The medium-income parents took their children on domestic holidays.
I sat down and started thinking back to when my parents first took me abroad for a holiday and realised that it had never happened. I then started wondering what the difference between a domestic and foreign holiday was to a small child. Do the children who go to the Maldives have a far better time than the ones who go to Port Dickson? Do they even notice the difference?
I think they don’t really notice or even care at all. They are children after all. They don’t have to go to school. They are on holiday doing all the things they don’t usually get to do and best of all, their parents and siblings are with them. The family spends time together, as they may never do during the busy days filled with school, tuition, extra-curricular activities, business and work.
What I am trying to say is that the place is irrelevant. The important thing about holidays is that we spend time together doing something we enjoy. We explore new places, play together and enjoy different experiences. We build memories for the days to come that will once again be filled with the rush of work, school and chores.
Happiness should not come with a price tag. Expensive toys or holidays are not a guarantee of happiness and neither do they take the place of time spent together as a family. Children are very often wise beyond their years and can perceive the true value of a gift. They often realise that a gift comes in place of time together or to make up for promises made and broken.
Love, security and comfort are what children need. They require security, understanding, a safe home and warm hugs. The smallest toy or the simplest holiday will be worth more than the finest Lego set if it brings a family together.
I met two very different mothers at a Christmas party last year. The first mother, let’s call her Mom A, gave her two daughters raincoats. They always went hiking together and I saw the happy smiles on the faces of the two girls as they thanked their mother and told her how much they loved her. I guess they were already imagining the fun times they would have.
Mom B bought an iPhone 6 Plus for her daughter and son who are both in primary school. The two children stood there holding their iPhones and asking where their Lego sets and other presents were. Surely the iPhone was not the only gift. I was stunned at this reaction.
Is there a right way to show your love for your children as far as gifts are concerned? Will Mom B lose the love of her children if she buys them “pasar malam” toys? If she does, she will have to stop and think really hard about the sort of values she has been teaching them.
No one truly values anything that comes too easily. We must teach our children to value people and gifts. They must learn to work hard and earn what they need and want. They must understand the difference between the two.
Parents need to start by showing the way. I know you don’t want your children to have it as hard as you did when you were growing up. I understand that having struggled so hard to get where you are now, you want your children to enjoy their lives, but spoiling them is not the answer.
They must learn that the ties that bind people together are not made of expensive holidays or things. What truly matters is spending time with your children, playing with them, laughing with them, teaching them, letting them fall and being there to pick them up. This will build emotional strength, confidence and character and give them what they need to face whatever life chooses to throw at them.
What matters is teaching them to work and save for the luxuries they want and giving them what they truly need. Any holiday is amazing if a family has fun together and the best gifts are the ones you share with your child.
Children need to understand that hard work and sacrifice went into their wonderful holidays and gifts and parents in turn need to realise that what they do today with their children will result in how they turn out as adults tomorrow.
Every parent has a vast responsibility when it comes to raising a child and I wish you well in your journey.