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7 Tips for Raising Grateful Children

7 Ways to Raise Grateful Kids

When I was in middle school, my parents encouraged us to work so we could have spending money. When I got my first babysitting, then snow-shoveling, then restaurant jobs, I was thrilled to have my own earnings and learn about money. (Even though I made $2.50-$4/hour!) Now that I’m a parent, that’s something I really hope to pass on to the boys. But how? In partnership with Capital One, here are seven tips I’m trying to follow for raising grateful children (and I’d love to hear yours)…

1. Make allowances.
Do you give your kids an allowance? So far, we haven’t, but I know that allowances can help children learn about money and saving. Some of my friends encourage their kids to split money into three piles: spending, saving and donating. I love that idea, don’t you?

2. Cherish a few toys.
My boys are literally always asking for new toys. But! When they actually get them, they’ll often play for half a day and get restless. Six years ago, I wrote about a toy experiment I did with Toby, where I put many toys in a closet, and left just a few favorites for him to play with. That way, I hoped our home would seem calm instead of overwhelming, and he could enjoy deep play. It was pretty incredible how well it worked for him. Since then, we’ve tried to do this as much as possible. Bonus: When we rotate old toys back into the mix, they feel almost as exciting as new ones!

3. Relate money (and value) back to their world.
We started having money conversations when Toby was in kindergarten, when he was learning about math basics and counting coins. Nowadays I’ll ask them to count the change to pay for ice cream or groceries, or have them look around the store to find the least expensive cereal or trash bags. I also heard a great tip from a friend: for small holidays or the tooth fairy, instead of giving kids money or toys, you can reward them with coupons for experiences. Their family has coupons for family movie nights, homemade dinner of your choice or a stay-up-past-bedtime pass! How cute is that?

4. Set expectations before shopping.
For our boys, we also like to set expectations around not shopping. We’ll say things like, “You can go see the toy aisle at the drugstore, but we’re just looking today.” I want them to understand that buying things is a special treat, not a given. Also, the line “maybe for your birthday” works much better than I expect it to :)

5. Set goals to encourage saving.
In high school, I really wanted to visit my grandparents in England, but my parents couldn’t afford a family trip that summer. So, by working at a pizza place and babysitting, I saved up for six months for the $500 flight, and it felt really empowering. Now, I encourage the boys to save their coins for specific goals, whether it’s a trip to the movies or something they’ve been eyeing. (Anton is currently saving for a head lamp.) It helps them understand the concept of savings and delayed gratification, and how over time, small amounts can add up to something bigger.

6. Try to teach generosity in all ways, not just with money.
You know when you’re at a dinner party or family reunion, and the same people always end up clearing the table and washing the dishes, while others just sit back and chill? Doesn’t that drive you bananas? It’s one of my goals in life to raise boys who always jump up to clear tables — as well as help parents carry strollers up subway steps, support friends when they’re moving apartments, volunteer in their communities, and on and on. We’ve tried to start this while they’re little: they set and clear the dinner table, hold doors for passersby, write thank you notes to grandparents (and the tooth fairy!), hold lemonade stands for charity, etc. And children’s books, like Zen Shorts, can help teach empathy and kindness. (I also found this New York Times chores article really compelling.)

7. Remember the best things are free.
At the end of the day, of course, the best things in life don’t come with a price tag. I loved this past comment from a reader named Annette: “The top parenting advice I ever received came from my mom, who told me, ‘You don’t need a lot of money to have fun and raise happy children.’ She told me to do things they will remember, like going for a walk in the dark, looking at the stars and watching the boats go through the drawbridge. These are the things, she told me, that your kids will remember.” The other day, Anton, Toby and I were sitting on a park bench, watching some squirrels jump from tree to tree. Anton sat back and said, in his gravelly voice, “This is the life.” And it really was.

Do you have any other tips? What would you add?

P.S. The most useful parenting finds under $25, and do you talk to your friends about money?

(Photo by ChaoShu Li. This post is sponsored by Capital One. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Cup of Jo.)

  1. Kate says...

    What a great post, with creative fun ideas. Sponsored posts are often a little forced, but this one had some really great ideas! You guys have clearly thought about this a lot in your own household. Love it! Thanks, as always, for the great advice and inserting your values into your posts. <3

  2. Sara says...

    I remember as a kid hearing “maybe for your birthday” a lot. I was probably always bouncing around begging for a toy. But I remember when those birthdays came around and just a few gifts were received, I was so sad. Maybe I didn’t remember the specific toy I wanted on that April afternoon, but I always had the expectation that when my birthday or Christmas came around, my mother would remember all those specific things I wanted, but what she basically promised me (or so I thought) was just an appeasement to get me to calm down. My little brain couldn’t process the phrase “maybe”. While its taken me some time to calm my high expectations around birthdays, I sometimes still wonder, will my husband remember that candle I was pining for at the boutique, will he get the new kitchen gadget I saw 6 months ago, will this be the year that I get everything I ever asked for? In retrospect, its not a good feeling to live with, pinning expectations on a day that is just another day with cake and a unwrapped box full of art supplies that are nice, but they aren’t the barbie that I thought about all year.

  3. Jamie says...

    On the “best things are free” point, we’ve made a Friday night tradition of popping popcorn on the stove with our 3 year old after we put her baby brother to bed. We do it the old fashioned way on the stove in a big copper pot. She gets so excited waiting to hear the popcorn start popping. Every time she says “This is so fun!” And shrieks with laughter when it starts popping. I hope it’s something she remembers, I know I always will.

  4. Jessie says...

    Just wanted to say that I have 3 teens over 16 and they work with us in our family business on holidays and during the summer. They don’t earn a penny but know exactly how hard we work to afford the things we do. They don’t ask for much and when they get things (free college education) they thank us and appreciate it. Sometimes it’s not really what we say to them but what we show them….When they were little, if they’d ask for things, we were not afraid to use the words “not today honey”…

    • Melody A. says...

      Good for you, my husband and I ran a company for 3 decades, our 3 children were paid for working for us and paid for college and umpteen other things, these 3 now are mid 30’s to early 40’s and only one of the three will acknowledge how this made his life better. So Kudos for you!!

  5. Melissa says...

    One of my favorite tips related to your #4 is… I have taught my kids to say ” I like this” instead of ” I want this” at any store. It helps my kids appreciate things without demanding them. But more than that, it helps keep me sane! :)

  6. Emilie says...

    When I was a little girl my mom would take us to deposit coins in a real, life bank account. I completely forgot about it until I started doing my own taxes a few years ago. She’s mailed me an envelope every year for tax season to the tune of about $300 in the account. I’d file it and forget about it. This year, I finally resolved to do something about it, but when I called they said the account would have to be closed in person by either my mom or myself (and I live pretty far away). I resolved to do it the next time I visited, but two months later my mom left my dad in what has become a pretty nasty divorce. Most of the accounts are in his name and she’s left paycheck to paycheck. But the other day when she visited, I had an epiphany. I pulled out the envelope I had saved from last year’s tax season and told her to empty the account. It was just $300, but she was the reason I had it in the first place. She was so grateful she cried, and I cried in knowing something so small could mean so much.

  7. Nora says...

    Wow, I feel so different from Karina about the sponsorship and the topic.

    I’m grateful I’m privileged enough that when my mortgage servicer screwed up and tanked my credit rating, my accountant and attorney dealt with it? I have less privileged friends that nearly lost their homes, including one whose mortgage was with Chase.

    I’m grateful I have a friendly local bank to work with, so the only way I support big banks like Chase are with my taxes dollars that insure against their gambling losses?

    I’m grateful my favorite blog didn’t take a sponsorship from Wells Fargo, that would have been worse?

    Nope – it really doesn’t work.

    I don’t have anything against sponsored posts, but this one makes me really uncomfortable.

  8. Nikki says...

    My parents raised amazing grateful kids and I was SUPER grateful for the college education my parents gifted me.

    The first day of classes my dad called me and said “Nikki I priced it out, it costs $95 for each college class you take. If you value this gift, never skip a class.”

    I never, ever skipped a class in college. Hung over, sick, whatever that stuck with me.

  9. Something wise my dad always did growing up was if we wanted a more expensive item, like a laptop or camera, he would go half in and we would have to pay the other half. He’s an investor, and also thinks in the way that “if you invest in something, you will appreciate it more.” He helped instill value in things by teaching us not to take things for granted, that you have to work to get things that you want, and that you should appreciate them! I still have the camera, kindle, and laptop that we both bought together and I believe they have lasted so much longer than they would have if they were just given to me. (:

  10. Bonnie says...

    I can get down when the skies turn dark and gloomy in the German winter– but I don’t want my 2-year-old to feel that. I try to share small joys with her this time of year and my favorite one is this: after changing into pjs, I take her on our balcony to smell the air. It’s so clean and crisp, and at this time of year, there’s a smoky goodness to it that just screams hygge!

  11. Mouse says...

    Not to be creepy or anything , but I might want to marry Anton someday. :)

    Seriously, what a great kid.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha :)

  12. Molly says...

    On setting expectations before shopping, when my sister and I were little, as we’d be approaching a really nice or expensive store, my mom would say, “Girls, this store is like a museum. Everything is very beautiful, but not for touching.” Even now, at 34, when my mom and I are out together and we head toward a pricey place, we’ll given each other a knowing look and say, “Museum!”

  13. Nora says...

    Gratitude and good financial habits seem like two separate topics. Is it just me?

    I work hard to cultivate gratitude with my kids, but my thought is, no financial habits will make a dent unless you model a different way of approaching life and expressing your own feelings of gratitude.

    I try to focus on people and experiences and articulating my own gratitude – “I feel so grateful to have a sister who is my best friend and that you and your brother have each other.” “Aren’t we lucky to have such a warm and cozy house to sit in and watch the snowstorm!” “What a wonderful time you and your friends had at the park! I’ll bet you’ll remember this day for a long time!”

    Not that they don’t love their toys and games and possessions and they get plenty, thanks to extended family, but I want them to view them as things that are fun for a moment, not valuable in and of themselves.

    • Ashley says...

      I thought the same thing, Nora! Gratitude can and should extend into every aspect of life. It’s all-encompassing: gratitude for people, places, privileges, health and wellness, beliefs, luck, and yes, financial stability and possessions. But the latter are just smaller pieces of the overall puzzle.

    • Elga says...

      Yes, agreed. This post was a bit more “materialistic” than I was expecting. I mean, being grateful sometimes is about not being cranky when someone is making an effort to make you happy, or not taking for granted gestures of love, or always really saying thank you to people, noticing their efforts. Gratitude for me is not about managing material goods and knowing they are not a given, that is something really important but not the same.

  14. A Martin says...

    I love these ideas! My daughter has 3 wiggly teeth and I love the coupon idea. Maybe the tooth fairy will leave a quarter and a coupon to pick the movie for family movie night which she would love. Regarding things they want at the store, I created a wishlist photo album on my iPhone. When our kids see something at the store, I take a picture of them holding the item and we add it to their wishlist photo album. So now, when they see something they like, they’ll ask if I could add it to their wishlist. I have also created my own wishlist in my notes which has helped me tremendously to reduce costs and check my impulse buying :D. And I can share the wishlist with my husband :D

  15. jeannie says...

    My granddaughter will joyously look around a toy store (or party city!) and say, “Can I get this when I grow up?” to everything she likes – which is basically everything. She never, ever asks me to by a thing! It is a pleasure to take her “not” shopping!

  16. When we were kids, we received an allowance that corresponded with the grade we were in (i.e., first graders received $1 per week, second graders received $2 per week, etc.). Interestingly, it didn’t necessarily mean that we took on more responsibility as we got older and received more money. Our allowance was a separate thing, related to teaching us lessons about saving – we received it whether we were being lazy slugs or chore machines. In our family, there was an overall expectation that we would contribute as needed, when needed.

    • Elena says...

      My daughter is 4 and she receives four dollars a week for allowance. Same as you, she receives it regardless of chores. You shouldn’t get paid to help out out around the house… it’s part of our home care and even self care! She’s currently saving for an American Girl doll remote control controlled car! $200+ ! She’s been diligent in saving, and the last time she broke down and spent her money, afterward she said, “Aww man! $8?!?! I’d rather have my money!” Next step, teaching her about donating money to causes…

    • Tori says...

      I like the approach of allowance not being tied to chores. I want to teach my daughter as she grows up, that you don’t do chores in order to earn money or get a star to earn a new toy, you do chores for the good of the family and household. Help for the sake of helping and the benefit to society, not just because you earn a treat.

  17. Nora says...

    Every time we would leave an event or someone else’s house, I would say to my youngest son as we were leaving, “Wasn’t that fun?” Now at 3.5 years old, whenever we are saying goodbyes he turns to everyone and states, “That was fun” and it always makes everyone laugh and feel appreciated like, “yeah. It WAS fun. “

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my heart! that is so, so sweet. i often say, “well, he/she was really nice/funny/friendly,” after we meet someone new on the street or at the deli, etc.

      the other day, as we were leaving a store where we had chatted with an older man, anton turned to me and said, “well, he was REALLY nice, wasn’t he?” and it made my heart swell!! modeling, even if you don’t set out to do it, really does make a difference! xoxo

  18. Last summer, I opened a bank account with my then 8 yo to deposit his first ever paycheck! He was so excited and I recalled my Scotia bank hockey college account from when I was his age. Growing up in Canada, if you made one deposit each month at the Bank of Nova Scotia, you were entered into a draw to win tickets to an NHL game. My brother and I deposited our hard earned allowance each and every month. We were so motivated to win these tickets.

    As we opened the account for my son, I said out loud “oh, your first paycheque, we should have taken a photo copy” The very helpful bank rep offered to make us one. We later went to use the atm to make the deposit. After we had transacted and turned to leave, my son asked me to deposit the ‘other’ cheque. At first, I was mystified but quickly realized that he was talking about the photo copy!! The bank rep and I laughed and commiserated that if only!!

    Like me, my son has since been motivated to fill up his bank account, of course, to buy the latest robux, vbux, which $ the latest app is asking our kids to buy. My 13 yo on the other hand, still doesn’t have a bank account (and has zero interest to open one) when all of his friends have their own account and bank cards. He is not as motivated to ask for extra chores as the little one is. As a family, we are pretty laissez faire when it comes to teaching the kids about finances (we do allowances but randomly and only after chores are completed) but interesting to see the differences between the 2 kids. They are also starting to ask more questions now about how things work like mortgages, etc.

  19. Kristian says...

    Three things: 1) At a school I used to work at, the 4th and 5th grade students use something they call “Town” to teach about money. A local bank donates voided checkbooks each year, and kids have to balance their checkbook and budget using “school currency.” All the kids got a “salary” each week, but also have to pay rent on their desks and can incur fines for things like breaking rules, acting out or unfinished homework. They can save up to “buy” desks (their own or others, though I understand rent control was put into place…). They also must pay for special privileges using special beanbags for reading time etc. But the best part is, each trimester, kids can apply for a business license (a fee is involved!) and they have to present a business play to their teachers. Then, on “Town Day,” all these stores go up for business. They can spend money at each others stores, but so can adults and students in lower grades too. The innovation is really cool. Food is always popular to sell, but so are games (hitting targets with nerf darts, obstacle courses and once betting on robot racing with hexbots), Craft items, and services (getting your hair braided, or fortune told, or a seeing a movie they produced) are also common. It works as a discipline system, teaches personal finance, how small businesses work, and helps them practice basic addition and subtraction skills too!

    Thing two: When I taught, my 4th and 5th grade TAG students played the Stock Market Game. We learned lessons about how the stock market worked (super basic concepts like: what are stocks, how are brands and companies connected etc.), and were part of a contest where teams had something like $1,000 (imaginary) to “invest” in the stock market over the course of several months. I was pretty proud- all but one of our teams made more money than they’d started out with and all beat out the majority of high school teams in our small state…

    Third thing: My parents set up a college tuition savings account for us as kids, and whenever we got money for birthdays or whatever, at a minimum half of it had to go into the account, and we were the ones to go talk to the teller and get the money put into the account. Now, its not like this totally paid for schooling, but it did reinforce a value on education, while also teaching us about how to save and use a bank etc.

  20. Sara Bowers says...

    When my children ask for a toy, treat, etc I ask “is that a need or a want?” It helps put it in perspective for all three of us, myself included, because sometimes their answers surprise me.

    • I love this! I’ll start asking myself that :)

  21. SFord says...

    As a teenager, after complaining about the style of clothes my mum used to buy for me (not trendy enough), she paid me £20 per month clothes allowance (this was in the 80’s). I had to buy all my school uniform, school shoes, winter coat and any other clothes with it. I had a book where a had to write down what I had spent on what and keep receipts. I knew that if I needed a winter coat I would need to save for a couple of months for it. On my mum’s part, she couldn’t disagree about the style of clothes I wore! Definitely taught me the value of money.

  22. Nina says...

    When my brother and I were about 9 and 11 we saved up together to buy a big lego box, I still remember the anticipation of waiting until we had enough money and the excitement of finally being able to get it!

  23. Diana K. says...

    When I was a kid my mom worked nights as waitress. She came home at night when we were usually sleeping and I remember hearing her keys rattling at the door and bolting downstairs. I remember hugging her around her legs, and smelling cigarette smoke on her apron (remember smoking sections? Ah the 90’s). She would then pull out two dollar bills from her chest pocket and hand one to me and one to my brother. It wasn’t exactly an allowance- probably more of a bribe to not hate her for all the late hours she put in and the missed bedtimes she felt guilty for. It definitely worked, I remember those dollar nights were so exciting- the weird restaurant smells lingering on my mom’s clothes, receiving a GIFT for no reason, getting to come downstairs past my bedtime for a few exciting minutes. Ahhhh the life.

  24. I made a list of simple “chores” that my kids could choose to do if they wanted to earn some money. The rates are laughable – $0.05 for setting the table, $0.10 for clearing the table, $0.50 for making their bed EVERY DAY for a week. The amounts are small because I actually expect them to help with such things as a member of the household. But at the same time, it does give each of them a chance to have a bit of her own money to save and experiment with. The rule is, they get to buy whatever they want, even if it’s something I wouldn’t normally let them buy (like chewing gum!). My 7 year old is now saving for a laptop computer – hahaha!

    • Emily says...

      We finally got on track with chores recently! For a long time, I avoided it with the mindset that you shouldn’t get paid for helping out around the house. But we finally found a system that works. My kids, ages 6 and 8, can choose to do “extra chores” each day. Right now, the options are unloading the dishwasher or doing a load of laundry. I made a special worksheet to track it. The catch is that in order to get credit for doing the “extra chore,” you have to complete your regular “daily tasks.” Those include making your bed (still working on it), hanging up your coat, putting shoes away, unpacking lunch box. If those tasks are done, then you can get a check box for completing your extra chore and earn 25 cents. It has worked really well! We add up all the check marks at the end of the month and have payday.

  25. Cate says...

    I hate to say this but children learn the most from watching your example – not a one off kind of thing, but the way you live your life. If your kids routinely see you helping an elderly lady across the street, holding a door for someone whose hands are full, or assisting a Mother with her stroller they will do these things for people as a natural part of their behavior. This goes for money too. If you are buying clothes or shoes all the time, and cannot wait to purchase the latest gadgetit really isn’t fair to think that your kids will go through life denying themselves immediate satisfaction.
    my husband and I always tried sometime in the summer or early fall to start talking about a thing or things we wanted for Christmas, and then as the time drew near talking about how much we hoped someone would give the thing to us. In that way our kids learned that we too had to wait for treats!

    • Diana K. says...

      FOREVER THIS.

  26. Caz says...

    I think this is such an interesting topic, especially for kids now who are growing up in the age of Youtube haul videos and other social media where it can seem like everyone else has all these amazing things.
    I think teaching appreciating what you have is important, especially when it’s easier than ever to just throw away things and buy new ones. You could also link it to lessons about the environment and being conscious of what we send to landfill. For example you could have a policy to not replace any toys or clothes that kids break through carelessness. I remember cutting a hole in my school shirt on purpose as a child, and the shirt was just patched up and I had to continue wearing it (which I hated!). It also provides an opportunity to teach them valuable skills and stoke their interest in how things work. For example, if they rip their shirt climbing a tree, they can help sew it up. If they break one of their toys, they can figure out how to glue it back together, or reattach that part using cable ties etc.

    • Tori says...

      Yes!

  27. Mac says...

    This is great! There’s so much to be grateful for and this list gives some good ideas.
    As a family, this month we’re writing at least one thank you card each day. I have a 3 year old and a 6 year old who are surprisingly into it. We talk pretty often about the *things* we have to be grateful for, I wanted to focus on the many, many people we can thank. Including the woman at the bakery who gives them a cookie each time we visit! The neighbor we carpool to school with. Their great grandma who sent them a Halloween package (with socks! ❤️). The notes have been simple but sincere and written earnestly with lots of punctuation. 😂

  28. these are wonderful! my favorite is #7 – the best things in life are free + fleeting – like the sun reflecting off water, fall foliage, water sounds, stars, clouds, watching animals (Anton knows whats up :) – it’s the epitome of my “moon rocks column” (latest: https://tps-steph.blogspot.com/2018/11/0011-moon-rocks.html)
    if I had children I would take them thrifting with me. there is so much good stuff out there and most shops donate that money or use it for charitable causes. Not only are you shopping in the most sustainable way but you can teach kids that new isn’t necessarily best & help them expand their creative thinking – how can I use something old in a new way or update it to be just right? (https://tps-steph.blogspot.com/2018/11/0010-tps-thrift-shop.html)

  29. Steele says...

    great post, and great article about chores! thank you!!

  30. Tracy says...

    Sweet Anton, so young yet so wise!

  31. Tori says...

    I am currently reading a book on parenting written in the 60s called “Children: The Challenge” and it is so good.

    One thing I love from it is the use of natural and logical consequences, and teaching kids to be good for the sake of being good, and not in order to get a reward.

    One quote that I read tonight, that relates to this post and the comments is, “Toys should have a useful purpose or meet a given need. They should be given on days when presents are expected, or seasonally…The child forms ideas about money and about shopping when he goes with us. If there is no limit to what he can demand, he assumes that the supply of money is limitless, and his sense of the value of material things becomes distorted.”

    Disclaimer: Now…there are a few cultural differences in the book that would no longer fly in today’s society, at least in the US (like leaving kids in the car while you go grocery shopping if they can’t behave in the store, and hitting them back if they hit you, ha!). Also, it basically blames the fact that kids started to misbehave on the fact that women started working instead of staying home (which makes you go on the defensive even if there may be some truth to it) But if you read it as a level-headed person realizing it was written decades ago, you can look past that and see what a gem it is.

  32. Yen says...

    Once in a bookstore, I bought a cylinder bank and use it to save for my son’s birthday. I would give him some coins and encourage him to put them in it. A coin on the floor? It goes directly to the cylinder. Some change in his pocket? To the cylinder. Last year, we’re able to buy a cake and birthday goodies from it. And when he received a huge amount of cash from that party, they went directly to the cylinder. Now we’re on year two and the cylinder is almost full, just in time for his birthday this December.

    When I was pregnant I suggested to my husband not to give him money/ allowance for school so he won’t be into money. But now I’m thinking I’m not actually helping him learn the value of money. (He’s turning 6.) So starting on our next grocery run, I will give him cash and ask him to buy snacks for school with the money I’ll give him.

  33. Lynn says...

    Way back to Taylor’s question…

    I find it 100% welcome and appropriate to add a kind- and light-hearted reminder that we don’t know the gender of anyone’s future partner. Your insight is no less valuable and no more accurate than that of the person making the comment about a future daughter-in-law. We’re shaping our world—and our children’s world—with every comment we make and hear. Why not use our voices to expand the world of possibilities?

  34. E. says...

    My eight year old gets a $ 2 allowance each week, no strings attached. It is his, he can do with it whatever he wants. So far, he has saved all his money to buy toys or books. He has already learned so much about the value of money, how easy it is to spend it, and how hard it is to save. We started giving him an allowance at the beginning of first grade.

  35. K says...

    The coupon tip is fantastic! I also like the idea of saving for something specific. Instead of having $20 burning a hole in the 5 year old’s pocket, they can think “if I save 8 more dollars I can get that LEGO set”.

    Thanks for stimulating intelligent parenting ideas.

  36. Jen says...

    My Mom worked in a bank my growing up years and was adamant I learn about and be responsible regarding money. “Never depend on a man” she’d always say. When I was eleven, she took me aside and said she’d tell me secret. That secret was part of the adult world and was called COMPOUND INTEREST. OMG. Seriously? I asked. Yes, she said. THANK YOU MOM!

  37. Jen says...

    I was with my daughter and I saw an elderly lady struggling to get her shopping bags into her car. I told my daughter we were stopping to help. My daughter held the car door open for her and I put her bags in the back seat and asked if she had help when she got home. She insisted on paying my daughter who automatically objected. In the end, she lost and she still has the two dollars three years later. Since that day, she now tells me when we have to stop and help someone.

  38. Erin says...

    ‘“This is the life.” And it really was,’ brought tears to my eyes. My 5 year old boy has a gravelly voice too. So sweet.

  39. laura k says...

    sometimes when my children were small we would go to the toy store and pretend to have a “museum day”- there was no money spent but we had fun looking and dreaming and the expectation was clear from the start so there were no meltdowns. Parenting can involve a lot of marketing to frame the experience. We also used the phrase “eyes only” when there was to be no touching- more active and positive than just saying “no”. As they aged, we moved up to “one finger touch”- they got to choose the finger :)

  40. Anna says...

    One of my favorite shopping tips with kids in the toy isle is to let them tell you what they want, but then take a picture of it to save for later. They really feel some ownership when they have a saved picture of the item, and it also helps me remember what they asked for when a birthday or holiday comes up.

    • Megan Kelly says...

      great idea!

    • Annie says...

      Yes, I do this with my kids too! It’s amazing how quickly and easily they will move on from a toy they are begging for if I offer to take a picture of it! They almost never bring it up again or want to see picture – I think it just makes them feel heard and validated.

  41. Adel says...

    I have five kids ages 1-13. Anytime they ask me for something reasonable but extra I say sure, how do you want to earn it? By now they know already, and come prepared with a plan. We both need to agree to it, usually involving something difficult but doable. Like going to sleep on time for five nights for the 4 year old or reading every night for a week for my nine year old. Helps to build good habits AND teach them that all good stuff in life are earned.

  42. This is so timely for me. My partner’s 17-year-old son started living with us last year full-time, which we have loved but BOY does the money teaching ramp up at this age. Our solution: give him a weekly chore he does for the house above and beyond our normal expectations (cleaning the bathroom + washing the floors). He gets $40 for this, which should be plenty for him to hang out with friends once + eat lunch at school + take the bus every day. The problem: he BLOWS through it on the weekend with his friends and then I know that he is not eating well or getting to school on time during the week. Any help for how to better manage this? I’d love your recommendations! Everything in the thread is for younger kids, but in my experience the money lessons really kick into gear when they become teenagers and are more materialistic! Thank you all!!

    • Neha says...

      Can I PLEASE recommend this amazing podcast episode
      “Dan Ariely: Saving Up Is Hard To Do” on Simplify?

      Saving up is hard for all of us!! Dan Ariely is a behavioural economist who has talks about a lot research on saving and spending habits and gives 3 simple tips (or that is what I remember of it) I think you will love it!

    • Erin says...

      Not a parent of teenage children but perhaps he could get a part time job. It would prevent him from spending so much on the weekends because he would be working and also teach him the value of money. I personally think $40 a weekend is a LOT of money and I had a part time job from age 15 onwards.
      Also, encourage him to put half of his pay into savings account for college. It was one of the best ‘hated it at the time, really came to appreciate it later’ things my mom made me do.

    • Amanda says...

      My parents were good at scaling down a normal household budget to match what our allowance and/or part-time jobs brought in… we had a little breakdown of what is reasonable to go toward food, entertainment, charity, clothes, etc. That was helpful because although I wasn’t FORCED to adhere to this budget, I could at least recognize what some healthy boundaries might be in comparison to what I was making.

    • Marie says...

      Easy peasy, try paying him on a Monday morning! That way he’ll spend the money during the week and not have as much for weekend, but still want/need to work for more. We heard about a version of this with the builders who were working on our seaside cottage. Evidently alcoholism and or heavy drinking can be an issue in the Maritimes. Our contractor mentioned that he paid his crew in the middle of the week. He used to pay them on Fridays, but then they’d blow most of at bars over the weekend and quite often not show up for work on Mondays. The hangovers must have been epic. He then tried paying them on Thursdays, but they’d start the weekend early! Finally, he found Tuesdays or Wednesdays worked best.

    • Rose says...

      Of course this is none of my business, but I thought I’d chime in. When I was a teenager I worked a lot and I paid for almost all my non-school expenses. Buses, clothes, etc. I loved it and it taught me self reliance, independence and the value of a buck. However, there are things that I don’t agree that kids should have to earn. Getting to school and having lunch money? One of those, for sure, in my opinion! Earning money by doing chores is great for shopping, hang outs, etc. But basics *should* be a given! He might resent having to spend his weekly chore money in getting to school.

    • B says...

      A quick thought I have is, what if you paid him on Sunday evenings? Maybe this would help him manage his money throughout the week for the things he needs (lunch and bus), and at the same time, teach him to be a bit more wise with his spending and save for the weekend fun, too? Just a thought…

    • Ingrid says...

      How about this? Give him some weekend fun money, then money every day for lunch and bus. Explain even some adults have trouble paying bills first, then having fun with the rest. Or give him the money on Monday, and he can spend what’s left on the weekend. He’s soon going to be more on his own in college or out of school. It’s important to learn how to handle money now. Good luck!

    • T says...

      You said he’s not eating well or getting to school on time because he doesn’t have any allowance left. Could you elaborate? Why does less money mean he’s not eating well? You mean he’s skipping lunch because he doesn’t have enough money to buy lunch? Does he have to walk to school because he doesn’t have money for bus fare?

    • Jean says...

      I personally think the bus and the eating-lunch-at-school should be separate from the “fun money” used to hang out with his friends — especially if it’s important to you that he gets to school on time and eats healthily. Allowance doesn’t include groceries/parents’ gas money, for example. Maybe you can make the bus/lunch money a set thing, and lower the fun money by a bit. Then, if he blows through that, it doesn’t affect his school life.

    • Wow – you all are AMAZING.

      The idea to pay on Monday. Why didn’t I think of that??? Such a simple solution.

      To answer questions about why we don’t separate the money for lunch/bus and fun money – because when we did it that way, we were having issues with him blowing through the lunch/bus money on spending with his friends. We decided that we’d pay him all together so that he could learn to better budget and understand that you need to cover your basic needs first. It’s not necessarily working, but I’m hopeful with the change to paying on Monday, it will get better. He is also starting a seasonal job at the Banana Republic (yay for a discount!), so hopefully that will help as well.

      I grew up super poor and my tendency is to just give and give and give to him because I want his experience to be different than mine. But, I felt that he was taking advantage of this generosity (constantly hitting up me + his dad for money separately) when he first moved in and so we’re trying to find the right limits where you do work beyond normal expectations to earn a very generous allowance that will definitely support your lunch/transportation needs + a little bit extra for friend time. There is also an option to do more work for more money, but he doesn’t usually take us up on that.

      I can’t thank you all enough for the guidance. It’s not an easy thing. I feel this enormous compulsion to teach him ALL THE THINGS so he ends up being a hard working, positive member of society and another GOOD MAN that we so desperately need in this world, but I also know that he is already good and that he is just going to get better and better the more this world teaches him.

      Sorry I’m just spewing here, but thanks for all the advice. It means the world.

    • Thank you ALL for the suggestions and feedback! I had written a really long comment response, but it disappeared. :(

      The paying on Monday suggestion is so glaring in hindsight, but I hadn’t thought of it before. Enacting that one right away!

      Finding the right balance between generosity + responsibility is one I am constantly trying to find as a guardian for this awesome young man. I want to teach him responsibility and work ethic while not getting him all hemmed up about money in a way that will not serve him. It’s not an easy thing, but I am doing my best. I appreciate your guidance and thoughts so much.

      -Michelle

    • Kelly says...

      The idea of paying on Monday is genius! Well done, Cup of Jo comment section. :-)

      And just to add to your last comment, Michelle, about the pressure you feel to raise good humans… My partner has two boys, ages 5 & 8, and living with them and having an active role in their caretaking, I feel such pressure to help them become awesome humans, while having to acknowledge that a) they already have several years of conditioning/rearing that I had no part of and which I may not agree with, and b) I still don’t feel as though I have a fully equal say in how they’re raised going forward. The powerlessness of those realizations makes it extra challenging for me, emotionally, to manage my frustrations when their behavior is not aligned with what I hope for and expect from them. It’s such a tricky thing to navigate!

  43. Christy says...

    Growing up, my dad put us on a clothes allowance and we were given the responsibility of doing our laundry. If we saved 1/2 of our allowance, he would match it and put it in the bank for us. There were always opportunities for “paying jobs” around the house since our allowance amount was strategically a smidge low for the going activities. I STILL utilize skills that we started building at age 10.

  44. jackie says...

    thank you so much for making even sponsored posts worth the read—every word, till the very end.

    • K says...

      Agreed! Sponsored posts must be hard to write, but you always nail it!

  45. Christie says...

    When my daughter was 5, we started giving a small allowance each week ($2) if she completed her chores. But I noticed it started to send the wrong message: she learned that she could choose not to complete her chores if she didn’t care about the money!

    I realised I probably had it backwards: we all have to do chores as part of living in a house with other people, that’s just basic respect. We now don’t give allowance for chores: she is just expected to do them each week. If she wants to earn money for purchases she can do extra jobs around the house, and we agree what each job is worth (“that’s a $2 job because it involves xyz”).

    • Louisa says...

      I so agree on this! – Someone described it to me like this: imagine if your friends asked for help moving, and when you finished boxing up their dishes they said “so that was 4 hours of work, at $10 an hour… here’s $40. If you need more money, you can box up books.” Chores are the goodwill we extend to live well in community with others, not a business transaction.

      Of course, that leads me to the idea that my kid gets an allowance no matter what, which feels strange – but I always liked the idea of a guaranteed income!

  46. T says...

    You might like to check out The Barefoot Investors latest book for kids. It’s going bonkers in Australia, he’s a finance guy, funny, no nonsense with lots of great (tested and kid approved) ideas for setting up financial futures.

  47. Naomi says...

    When my sons were growing up they didn’t get an allowance. They were given $10 at the beginning of the week. That was their “lunch money” for school. If they made their own lunch at home and brown bagged it they were able to keep the money for whatever they wanted. It taught them many lessons and got me out of making lunches every day !

    • Sarah says...

      GENIUS.

  48. We talk about our budget all the time with our kids (6.5 & 3.5). For us, the rule is that we can only eat out once a week. If the kids ask to go to a restaurant another time during the week after we’d already been once, we talk about how our budget only has room for one meal out. Sometimes, we’ll say, we’re skipping our restaurant meal this week because next week, we’ll have a special event (like a birthday or another celebration).

  49. Em A says...

    We give handmade gifts (pins, clay flowers, hats, etc) and food we cooked or prepared at home, with handwritten notes —to show appreciation, to give encouragement, etc. Since I am a stay-at-home mom and they are homeschooled, we are able to include making all sorts of stuff in our daily routine. They LOVE to bake and to draw. They want to be artists and chefs when they grow up. By giving gifts we carefully thought of and worked on, we hope we are inspiring them to value work and practice, nurture creativity and give happily from the heart. Even if we currently have $0 in our pocket. Do we have a piece of pretty paper, glue, scissors, pencil? Do we have fabric scraps, a needle and some thread? Do we have rice flour and sugar? Then, we have something to do and something to give. The process of creating something makes us happy, but giving the result/product as a gift brings a much greater joy! When we do buy a gift, it is usually practical and/or evokes the same sweet sentiment as our handmade card. One day, my youngest surprised me with her “3 financial tips”: 1.) Don’t buy it when you can make it. 2.) Don’t.believe.all.advertisements. Most of them just want you to spend all your money on things you don’t even really, really need. 3.) Don’t get someone to do something that you can do (for/by) yourself. Example, (learn to) give yourself and your family a haircut. 😂 Her words, not mine. She was 5. Also, she still tells me she loves her big sister’s “give-ups”… meaning, hand-me-down clothes. 😄

  50. t says...

    What a wonderful post; thank you for all the suggestions! Parenting is HARD so I love quick and easy ways to do things a little better.

  51. Anna says...

    On children and money, I would recommend Natalia Ginzburg’s powerful essay “The Little Virtues”, originally written in Italian. If you’re curious, there was a piece on its lessons in the New Yorker a while back.

    She basically says that children should (insofar as the family’s material situation allows) be taught to be indifferent to money; to let it flow, rather than be prized over living and experiences.

  52. Ashley says...

    Our kids are 11 and 8 years old and we follow the save/spend/share method. Each week they get $10 if they complete all of their chores, which is broken down as follows:

    $4 save (they can identify a specific goal to save for or just have a running savings “account”),
    $5 spend (this is the “fun money” they can use for candy/toys/arcade/movie/etc),
    $1 share (they can save this up for something specific, like a donation to the animal shelter, or use it as it comes in, like putting this week’s dollar in the offering plate at church).

    “Save” and “share” are non-negotiable, but they can always choose to put their “spend” in one of the other two categories if they want. For a while our daughter’s “spend” money was burning a hole in her pocket and she spent it immediately each week, and then she saw that her older brother was saving his “spend” money and could save up for a big purchase faster. The cause and effect of it all is very real! If they don’t complete a chore, they lose a dollar, which always comes out of the “spend” category.

    I have been moved to tears on more than one occasion about where they choose to use their “share” money. In fact, sometimes we end up matching it to make a bigger donation! <3

  53. Ashley says...

    That last comment from Anton reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Kurt Vonnegut: “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” Love that at such a young age, Anton has the wisdom to notice these moments!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      ashley, that’s so moving to me! thank you for sharing that quote.

  54. This is such a wonderful post! Especially no. 6 – drives me bananas too when certain family members always clear the table while the others just chill.
    This past summer I was at a yoga retreat in Greece where we had a chef cook for us while his girlfriend did the dishes.
    Then a few times the retreat organizer would be washing dishes instead and when I asked her if she needed help, she replied: It’s for my karma.
    I found it so true and so sweet of her. Just because someone is paid to do something for us, doesn’t mean we can’t lend a helping hand:)

  55. Kaitlin says...

    My dad was an investment banker, but funnily never taught me about money. I was given complete financial independence at 20, and learned about setting aside money for taxes through trial and (much) error. In addition to a spot for donations, I want our daughter to learn where taxes go and why we have them before she has to file them. We need a society that values both public and private sector finances.

    I like the idea, to teach older kids budgeting, of giving them larger amounts of money and more responsibility: One of my husband’s friend’s got $100 each month, but that was to cover their clothes, takeout outside of family meals, and entertainment. Kids won’t learn how to make choices about money if they’re not given the opportunity to do so for themselves.

  56. Irina says...

    I second what other commenters have said about the importance of modeling gratitude. When my husband was growing up, his parents insisted on him saying “thank you” after each meal. He resisted, and was punished for it. Everyone thought he wouldn’t say thank you because he was ungrateful, defiant, etc., and he did have a stubborn streak in him (still does!).

    However, the truth of the matter is that no one in the family modeled being grateful for him. His parents certainly didn’t thank each other for meals or anything else, and they argued a lot. And my husband, as a child, was often criticized and almost never thanked or praised. No wonder it didn’t feel right to him that his parents saw gratitude as a one-way street.

    It truly melts my heart that now, as an adult, my husband will thank me for every little thing, from cooking a meal to cleaning up to taking the dog outside.

    • Lauren E. says...

      My husband grew up in a very tumultuous, abusive household, but one of my favorite things about him as an adult is that he thanks me for every single thing I make for him, from an elaborate dinner to a cup of tea. I know he’s grateful but I also know he wants me to feel and hear that he sees my efforts and they’re not taken for granted. It’s something I hope we pass along to our kids.

  57. Erin Roeck says...

    The last bullet in this list really rings true to me. I grew up in an affluent family that was in so many ways far from happy. My dad remarried when I was 20 and the woman he married was a middle school teacher who had raised two children on her salary. She told me when her kids were little, she would place a bowl of fruit on the floor and they would all sit around it with paper and crayons and draw. When we see each other during the holidays, her nearly 30 year old children still remember those days.

  58. Ann says...

    My two sons house, plant, and cat sit for our neighbors. They also fill the bird feeders. It’s good for them to learn that these are little every day real-life chores that adults do. They get a little spending money and sometimes they save it and put some in the bank! I take them to do the deposits too and they do it the old way by talking to a teller! The tellers love it.

  59. Oh I really enjoyed this, thank you!

    I go through cycles of remembering re paring things back and cherishing a few toys – but it makes a huge difference to how children play when they can focus on just a few things rather than feel distracted by too many options.

    I think about this topic a lot – about helping our children stay grateful, kind, thoughtful people – especially in a non-religious framework like our family. Maybe too much bc of my background (research/ethics/policy), but it’s an important one. I wrote about it a while back, in case it’s of any interest:

    https://themumandthemom.com/2018/05/10/on-values-in-a-non-religious-household/

    I will totally be reading all the comments too as there are always gems in your comments section! :)

    Hxx

  60. emma says...

    First of all, I think it’s really important to be open about money and money knowledge with your kids- my family talks about this openly, my husband’s family doesn’t… and I think it makes a huge difference in how much both of us know about money and how to manage it, and how prepared all of us are for our future.
    1 actionable thing my dad did for me growing up was that whenever I got money gifts (for bdays etc), he’d tell me I could spend it– or he’d take it, double it, then buy a bond for me– which would then double again– effectively quadrupling my money! This may not work for every kid, but it made me a life long saver, and gave me a couple thousand dollars spending money when I was older. :)

  61. Diana says...

    For my kids birthday parties with school friends, we ask their friends to bring a donation instead of gifts. My daughter’s friends brought diapers and wipes as a donation for a women’s shelter (my daughter loves babies so we explained it as giving the diapers to babies who may not have enough), and my son’s friends brought cat food and litter (he loves cats and we don’t have one) which we donated to a local animal shelter. The kids then come with us to do the donation, which feels great and opens the door for some conversations we may not have otherwise had.

    When our kids have asked why we don’t get presents from friends but others do (after seeing this at other parties), we just say that in our family the people that know us and love us give us gifts that they chose for us, but that we don’t need more things and would rather share with others that do need them. Plus, at the end of the day, isn’t it enough to have a party and eat cake :) ???

    Love this blog and all of the lovely comments too!

  62. irene says...

    just recently i’ve been giving my 8 year old son a couple of dollars for his “grocery money” . from that, he spends it on some of his snack staples such as yogurt. he keeps whatever change is left. the other week he was like “Mama, the almond milk from this grocery costs 45 cents less than from the other one we go to!” we also do #1. he has an accordion folder with 2 compartments. one for his “toy fund” and another for his “bank money”. he automatically sets aside $1 and gives it to me for tithing

    • Anne says...

      Oh my gosh, he’s going to be cutting coupons before you know it!

  63. Sarah says...

    In my hometown, there is a craft fair, every year in November – for us, it used to mark the beginning of the Christmas season. When I was a wee one, my mother used to bring my brothers and I and we would each get a small amount to spend – maybe 10 or 15 dollars – and that would be for us to buy all of the Christmas presents for the year (parents, two siblings, and anyone else you wanted (I often included our dog and cat haha)). It was SUCH a magical day! We always had a plan – you had to meticulously go through the whole Fair to scout everything out and then go back and find the right combination of budget friendly gifts.

    I also loved this because my mum was also very explicit about how it was important that we were supporting our community and neighbours, etc and gifts gained extra meaning because they were made by so-and-so’s grandmother or your teacher’s husband, etc.

    It’s so lovely as an adult, looking back and seeing how seemingly innocuous bits of your childhood were actually so foundational and how your parents were making these conscience choices about your upbringing without you even realizing it. Brb going to call my mum and say thanks!

    • Elise says...

      I love that!

  64. Alex says...

    one of the simplest ways I seek to instill gratitude in my kids is through food. We have days with intentionally very simple meals (usually beans and rice) and days that are special like steak. They help in the kitchen where they can (at 6 and 3) and needless to say, I only cook one dinner and they have to eat it. They’re not perfect of course, but I like the idea of expecting my kids to be thankful in all things and teaching them through practical means.

  65. Sarah says...

    A sponsored post, with such beautiful and thoughtful ideas and points. You won the internet today – despite the fact that Randy Rainbow has a new post out!

  66. J says...

    I don’t have children but this is a great post. So much of what my parents emphasized growing up still holds true as an adult. My brother & I were NEVER allowed to use the word “hate”. My mom would correct us – we just dislike, never hate (this is very hard right now with all the crazy politics). A common phrase heard was “Pretty is as pretty does”. And we were always the helpers…I was always tasked at family gatherings to clean up. You weren’t done until dishes were washed & trash was thrown away. I still will race around at parties & clean up before I leave.

  67. “This is the life.” So sweet. I’d add that one of the best things parents can do for kids is be responsible with their own money, and cultivate a healthy relationship with money and with shopping. We all know this basic truth: things will not make you happy. And yet, many people participate in “retail therapy” in a way that verges on addiction.

    Kids are, generally, mirrors. So, for example, many of my (now grown) friends who have spending problems have parents who have spending problems. Many of my friends who are obsessed with money have parents who are obsessed with money. I think, on an individual level, it’s worth evaluating your own relationship with money—is it healthy? is it negative? is it obsessive? Are you treating money as more important than it is? Are you falling into the trap of thinking money is the key to happiness or the key to life?—and then making conscious choices to course-correct, keeping in mind that this money relationship is certainly something you can pass down to your children.

  68. Colleen Wenos says...

    #6 resonated with me. I’m going to have my kids clear the table more.

    • Courtney says...

      I have a one year old and we even started just having him carry one little item to the trash after dinner and it has helped so much! He is very proud to do his chore and I’m hoping this will build over time rather than just being like, “Ok you’re three now! Time to do this thing you’ve never done!”

  69. Sasha says...

    What a lovely photo of Anton! I hope to use these tips with my daughter when she’s older. she’s two months and the only thing she wants now is more milk… But I just wanted to say tip #2 works really well with your own wardrobe, put away some of your clothes for a few months, take them out again, and it’s like you went shopping in your own house!

  70. I spent my 20s working as a nanny for some lovely families. It was always tricky when the kids expected to get to buy things when we were out and about. I never wanted to make them feel bad for asking because I am sure this was commonplace with their parents but at the same time I wanted to come up with a way to have a different practice around seeing things we want. I would stop and admire the item with them and ask them about what they liked about it instead of trying to rush them along or shut down their desire or interest. Then if it was something they deemed really special, we would take a picture of it to add to their wish list. It was always really fun to surprise them at birthdays or holidays later with the exact thing they had wanted months ago. It helped me pick out thoughtful gifts and send ideas to family members. Mostly, I hope it taught them the art of noticing what others want or need and saving the idea for later to surprise them. The gift is really in the feeling of being noticed. :)

    • emma says...

      As a rule, I generally don’t buy toys and things for my kids while out and about. Kids are creatures of habit and buying them random things will set you up for tantrums. I love your idea of taking pictures. With my 3yo, I let her hold stuff in the store, but then we put it down before we leave because “they have to go to sleep with their families.” The putting them to sleep thing is surprisingly effective for the toddler set. :)

    • Ellen says...

      Such great ideas!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a great approach, meredith. i really love the photo idea.

    • Shelley Ahrens says...

      What a beautiful approach!

  71. Sara says...

    My husband and I decided to pick 5 attritubes we wanted our family to be known for. We thoughtfully considered the areas in which came natural and ones that were areas for growth.

    Both of us felt compelled to find ways in our daily living to model these attitudes: courage, self-discipline, servanthood, compassion, and gratitude.

    With young kids, we have found that our approach differs due to changing ages and seasons of life. However, at the end of the day our language and actions represent these attributes. It has helped greatly in shaping our kids when disciplining or discussing why we do certain things. We simply say, “in our house, we show gratitude by..(insert a behavior – clearing the dishes, picking up toys, saying thank you). it’s important to show gratitude because others feel appreciated. Everyone matters and we need to show them that.

    We are cognizant of finding more ways to incorporate ways to build these particular attributes so we can continue to grow.

    • Sara says...

      I failed to mention that we even went as far as having an art piece made with these attributes. It hangs on our family living room wall for all to see.

    • Amanda says...

      Sara – I love this approach so much. Thank you for such a thoughtful approach to parenting and life in general <3

    • Em says...

      This is so helpful. I’ve been panicking, afraid my family of three (our daughter is 11 months) is more likely to end up looking like the descriptions of the frazzled, nagging families linked to within the NYT chores article than the considerate, wise, responsible people I hope for us to be. I love that you created a piece of art everyone can see to reflect the values you want your family to be known for and that you work these characteristics into what you say with regard to chores and discipline. I want us to be that intentional–but our communication constantly breaks down as we flail under ever-growing piles of dishes and laundry and exhaustion. We have a long T-giving car trip ahead: now I look forward to it for the chance to really talk with my husb. about the values we want to instill in our family over the coming years. Thank you for this post.

  72. Taylor says...

    Semi related–a question I’ve been wondering: is it ever acceptable to point out the problematic language that a mom uses? I’m not a parent, but I recently saw a mom I follow on Instagram post a video of her young son vacuuming with a caption “you’re welcome future daughter in law!”….and I fought the urge to comment “or son in law!” On one hand, I don’t feel like women, and especially moms, need any more commentary or criticism on their parenting, and I know she didn’t mean anything sexist by the comment and on the other hand, this is why LBGTQ kids feel terrible coming out to even the most supportive of parents and have high rates of depression. I’d like to think if I was a parent I’d want someone to correct me? For the sake of my kid at least? Thoughts?

    • emma says...

      I don’t think it’s appropriate unless people are interacting with *your* kids in a way you don’t like. Of if you are close with someone and want to have a conversation, not a lecture. I did ask my mom not to talk about her body (or others) in a negative way in front of me or my (newborn) daughter and as soon as my daughter was born starting calling her out on it– a few months of doing this and the negative talk ceased entirely.

    • Janna says...

      I would not do it myself, because what you might consider problematic may not be problematic at all to the person making the comment. It’s just a different perspective and what one perceives as “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “bad”. My parenting philosophy is very much “do what works for you, and do what you think is right” – there are so many ways to parent, and it’s definitely NOT one size fits all. In general, for every person who thinks something is a great idea, there’s another person who thinks it’s a terrible idea, and so on. As far as your wanting someone to correct you – you get to know your fellow parents pretty well, especially those who are your friends or loved ones. Some of my friends are always seeking advice or guidance from others (at which point you’re welcome to give it if you come across a similar situation), and others are not – they’d rather do things their own way.

    • Cara says...

      personally, I’d go ahead and comment with the “or son in law”. add an emoji laughing. or if yo’re not so close with them- throw out a “anyone would be lucky to find such a sweetie!”

    • t says...

      Hi Taylor, I think that is a good question and I think you should just follow your instinct and continue to take the feelings of the recipient of said unsolicited feedback into consideration.

      with the example you provided I think if you did it in a kind way it would be fine.

    • Emma says...

      As others are getting at, you don’t have to “correct” someone to point out there are other ideas out there… I like the suggestion of the comment “anybody would be lucky to find such a sweetie”! That doesn’t feel like an accusation to me.

      What’s interesting to me is that the post you describe kind of hits me the wrong way, too, but for different (additional) reasons: (1) it’s a backhanded way of reinforcing gender stereotypes (i.e. ‘normally women vacuum, so it’s special that this BOY is doing a woman’s job’) and (2) why make it about a future spouse at all? isn’t it just nice that this kid is doing something pro-social NOW, for himself and the people he lives with?

      I am not a parent, although I’ve been a live-in au pair. The thing that terrifies me the most about parenthood is navigating the other PARENTS, as a woman. My partner and I are not really there yet, but I love him dearly and could see us having kids down the road–I highly doubt that, as a man, he will face nearly the same kind of scrutiny from society, and even/especially other mothers, that I will.

      More useful than trying to correct other parents, I think, is being open and accepting with the kids you come in contact with. From personal experience–having open-minded, loving adults around is tremendously valuable when you cannot totally trust your parents on some things.

    • Lauren says...

      If a conservative Christian was in turn concerned with your “or son in law!” comment, how could she or he best indicate that in a way that didn’t hurt your feelings or imply that you were less-than in some way? That’s probably a good way to figure out how you should word your “or son in law!” concerns. Maybe the religious person could reply, “I just want to speak up for other Christians who, like me, wouldn’t say those words because that kind of relationship goes against our beliefs. I hope there’s room for all of us in this discussion!” or something like that. (I’m not a Christian by the way, just using it as an example!)

  73. Ramona says...

    It’s strange to say it, but my parents taught me a lot about gratitude when they could barely afford to send me to my very good but very expensive college. I knew that my mom had gone back to work and that my parents were foregoing luxuries at home to pay my tuition (plus I was working 2 jobs and took out loans), and so I felt determined to seek out every conceivable opportunity in order to make it all worthwhile. I did a double major, and never missed a single class or failed to do an assignment. I audited additional courses and did all of the work for them, too. I was a regular at professors’ office hours. I did sports and music and clubs and studied abroad. I even attended every single speech in our campus speaker series! I know that as parents we all want to give our kids the moon and make them happy all the time, but I do think a bit of adversity can be fertile ground for learning gratitude.

  74. We do not give our kids an allowance. By the time they really are old enough to have serious wants, they also have some earning power. Nothing teaches them economics more efficiently! I will willingly pay them to do extra chores at home – some of their relatives in the area will do the same. My daughter recently decided not get a manicure with a friend because it cost more than she expected and wasn’t worth it to her. I love to see my kids thinking it through!

  75. Marisa Repeta says...

    Super cute photo of your son!!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you :) he had just said “sunflowers are my favorite flowers and also every type of flowers.” <3

  76. I love #6! We need more mothers of boys raising them up to be that kind of person (girls, too, but they tend to be socialized to help anyway!).

    This is something I think about a lot because I lean toward cynicism, self-pity, and complaining. I remember when I was an angsty teenager, my fed-up parents often said, “You’re not allowed to complain about anything else for the rest of the day!” or “Please don’t talk for the next hour unless you have something positive to say.” So embarrassing, now!

    All that to say, my daughter is not even 3 yet, so she has literally zero concept of money, but I’ve noticed that the most important part of teaching her gratitude is modeling it myself! She is old enough to notice when I get a new top or a new pair of shoes, or what we fill our cart with when we go to Target. I think if I am aware of how much I consume, and I don’t hype up the idea of getting new things all the time, we’ll be at least starting off on the right foot. I’ve also tried to make a point of articulating feelings of gratitude, whether it’s exclaiming over a beautiful sunset (L.A. sunsets lately have been unreal!) or saying, “I had so much fun getting ice cream with you today.” I’ve noticed my daughter doing it, too! And there’s nothing like coming home from the park and having your 2-year-old say, “I had so much fun at the park with you!” :)

    • Amy says...

      Haha, my parents did the same thing! My mom would say, “would you like some cheese to go with your whine?” and it made me so irritated at the time (#teenagerproblems) but it makes me laugh in hindsight.

      Also, I totally agree with you about boys! I feel like there has been some miscommunication about what feminism means for boys. Used to, young boys would be taught to open doors, carry heavy boxes, etc for girls. Feminism means that everyone should do that for everyone else! (Not that boys should stop doing that for girls)

    • Louisa says...

      The story makes me wonder about the relationship between kids who are “self sufficient” and kids who are grateful. I think of “grateful” as realizing “I am lucky to have what I do” while “self-sufficient” tends to come across as “I earned everything I have/I don’t need any help.” Clearly these 12 kids in this story are privileged beyond the norm (12 kids, each got a car, annual trips across country or to Europe, annual 2-3 week family vacations, saved for college by doing family chores, started their careers with invaluable contacts), and yet I just don’t see much gratitude in this story.

  77. Sascha says...

    I love this topic! One thing I’ve noticed my older sister (mom of 5) teach her kids recently is to ask “what else?” Before they have free time, they have certain expected chores they have to complete— but before they’re finished she’s taught them to ask “what else can I help with?” before they sign off and do their own thing. She feels it is helping them recognize that the work isn’t done until the host/hostess doesn’t need help anymore.

    For me and my littles we talk a lot about being helpers and listeners and what that entails. We also do a round of “sincere compliments” at our Sunday dinner. We go around and ask each person to say one thing they appreciate about every family member that week. It’s been a special practice! Especially when mom and dad can exchange what we appreciate about each other in front of them. My oldest is 5 and he’s taken to leading the discussion. Yesterday he asked our five month old what he appreciated about mommy this week and his dad quickly narrated something about getting food from mom. The kids loved it. It makes us all feel closer and grateful for each other. The only rule (that we haven’t had to explain yet thankfully) is that the compliments must be beyond how someone looks.

    • Alex says...

      This sounds a lot like our dinners. My oldest initiates a “what was your favorite thing about today?” conversation.

  78. Wendy D says...

    We were struggling with buying clothes for our girls that they loved in the store and then never wore once they came home. It was costing us a fortune on never worn clothing. So, we came up with the budget idea. They each receive so much money a month/yr to purchase clothing. They must stick within the budget. It has been fabulous. They have not only learned how to budget, but also how to plan purchases for buying what they need over wants, making shopping lists, shopping sales, sleeping/thinking on a purchase before making it, the cheapness of sharing and the awesomeness of thrift stores.

  79. Korin B. says...

    When I was small during the days leading up to Christmas we had a “Giving Tree” in our house. Hanging from a dried branch were many wrapped packages. Each package held three tiny identical presents or treats – one for me, one for my sister and a third to gift to someone else. Each morning we would open one bundle and the best part was choosing who to bring the third present to that day. I distinctly remember hanging one on my grandmothers front door and hiding in the bushes to spy on her surprised face when she got her present.

  80. Jenny says...

    I really like these tips. I have a folder for bookmarking my fave Cup of Jo posts. I love that I’m inspired to put some sponsored posts in there along with your regular ones :)

  81. I found this Moon Jar really helpful in explaining the concept of save, spend, give away: https://www.moonjar.com
    Though recently Sammy has been putting all his coins in the save box in hopes that he collects enough for a “house on wheels.”

  82. We have been giving our 4 year old an allowance for over a year. When he was three, he received $3 per week–$1 to save and $2 to spend. When he turned four he got a raise. He now gets $4 a week, of which he must save $1. At first he would want to immediately spend the money, but lately he has been saving for a bigger toy. He actually saved up for a $35 dinosaur thing (though Grandma helped with a $5 contribution, lol).

  83. One of the best things that my parents did when I was a preteen and then a teenager was agree to match whatever gifts I put in savings, especially for my “car fund.” I started saving for a car when I was 11, and knowing that whatever I set aside would be matched was so motivating –I remember putting almost all of the money that I got for Christmas or my birthday straight into my savings account, along with a portion of what I earned from after-school jobs. Being able to buy a car when I was 16, after having anticipated it for so long, was so empowering! It also made me a lifelong saver :)

    • Wow that is genius!!! I’m going to remember that for my kids!

    • Louisa says...

      This is genius!

  84. Marci says...

    Such good tips. We accidentally discovered this one: Experience the joy of hand-me-downs. My kids are the youngest grandchildren and we benefited by getting hand-me-downs of everything from clothes to toys to our backyard swing set. I took a hiatus from working while my kids were little and I so appreciated the cost-savings from getting nearly-new (and well-loved) kid paraphernalia. My kids picked up on my gratitude – and actually adored the used items as much or more as new stuff. My son proudly wore a shirt handed down from a cooler older cousin and sniffed it joyfully, saying, “It even smells like Ryan.” (I had to hide my smile…I’m thinking he meant his family’s particular brand of laundry soap? lol)

    They also were more willing to give up beloved toys after they had outgrown them – happy take on the role of giver and pass them onto to younger friends and neighbors. They even took care to keep their toys in good condition for the next recipients.

    A shiny pair of black dress shoes circulated through four boys in the neighborhood, worn once or twice before being outgrown and passed on to the next one forced to dress up for a wedding or a school band concert. Christmas dresses appear in several years of extended family photos, and everyone gets a chance to wear a toddler-sized Minnesota Twins jacket before it gets passed to the next one for a season. The hand-me-downs are milestones on each kid’s journey growing up.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love this comment, marci.

  85. C says...

    With our little boy we make a big deal of my husband modeling gratitude because I think it’s so important for boys to see men being grateful and courtesy rather than entitled or just ambivalent. So if I cook dinner, my husband always makes a big deal of saying thank you and telling our son that because I made dinner, the two of them got extra time to play together when Daddy got home from work and he is so thankful for that. And now at dinner time my son has started saying “thanks for playing, Mommy” which just cracks me up.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, C, i couldn’t love this more.

    • Alex says...

      Yes! My husband does this with our sons and it makes me love him even more. Is there anything more gratifying to a mom’s heart than a sincere contented sigh from their kid and a joyful “thanks for dinner, Mom!”

  86. Carrie says...

    What a great post! Not a mommy but hopefully someday, and these are all wonderful ideas.

  87. My friend does a garage sale each year where she encourages her kids to sell their old toys they don’t play with anymore and let’s them use the money they earn for new toys.

  88. Sarah says...

    That story about Anton is so sweet!

    I’m a science teacher and there’s often a lot of cleanup after a lab. Some of my students will offer to help clean up and I used to say, “I can do it, but thanks,” and have recently realized how important it is for other students to see their peers offering to help so that it occurs to them that they could do the same. I’ve also noticed that the students who offer to help are the ones whose parents I see helping with different events around the school. Like Sargjo said, they have people in their lives modeling how to jump up from the table to clear the plates, or ask, “What can I do? What can I bring?” and it comes more naturally to them.

    Also, I took the toy advice to heart from a few years ago and it is THE BEST THING EVER. We have a quarter to a third of our toys out at any time and it seriously revitalizes their interest in them every time we rotate (every 1 to 4 weeks depending on interest). The toys all fit in one basket in the living room and cleanup is a tiny bit less tedious without so much stuff all over the floor. It’s also a great opportunity to purge since I can always vaguely say, “Oh, that one must not be out right now…” remembering the 6 bag Good Will drop-off post-Christmas last year. They usually accept it without question!

  89. patricia blaettler says...

    When my daughter was a teenager and needed to go clothes shopping, I’d usually just take her and we’d buy whatever she decided on. One time I changed it up and told her what the budget was and told her to make choices based on the dollar amount. What a difference! There was a lot more thought that went into each decision.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is such a great tip!

    • Yes! My mom started giving me a clothing allowance in middle school because she hated shopping with me (I was so indecisive and picky). I learned the value of money and being careful with my clothes real fast! Those lessons were very formative for me, ones I probably would not have learned if my mom just talked to me.

  90. Sargjo says...

    As a teacher, I’ll do a shout out for MODELING gratitude as one of the most powerful ways to raise grateful kids. Most children learn values most by imitation, not by being “told” or even by systems of learning. So if you model gratitude-appreciation of small moments of your day, of the people in your life, of the roof over your head if you have a roof, transportation to get you places whether that’s healthy legs or wheels or public investment. When I voice my gratitude for my own life, my two kids follow suit. They might not always voice it, but their contentment with our lifestyle (miles below our wealthy neighbors) says it all.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “So if you model gratitude-appreciation of small moments of your day, of the people in your life, of the roof over your head” = yes! my aunt was amazing in this way. when our families would get together, she would often look around and say, “how lucky are we???” and she was simply talking about lunch at her house, or taking a walk in the woods. she was always pointing out how lucky we were just to be together. i always remember it.

  91. Natasha says...

    When I was growing up, we said grace before dinners. We’d bow our heads and recite the same prayer every night. But now that I have my own children and my husband and I are not religious, I feel like dinner is missing something if we don’t pause before eating our meal to reflect on how lucky we are. So every evening once the food is in front of us, we all join hands and go around the table and say one thing we’re grateful for. This evening, our six-year old was grateful that we plucked the thorn out of the bottom of his foot today. And our two-year old usually just says out loud what’s for dinner, which kind of works. Anyway, it feels right to take a moment and really acknowledge how much we all have and how grateful we are for it. Thanks for your blog, I love it so much.

    • Ashley says...

      As a fellow non-religous person (culturally catholic as I like to say), I share your feeling that something is missing at dinner time. When my daughter was born I started thanking everyone that made our meals possible (the farmers who grew the squash, the workers who picked the corn, the baker who made the bread, my husband for cooking our meal with care, that we have access to fresh produce to keep us healthy, etc). I completely agree with the sentiment that it feels right to take a moment to acknowledge gratefulness.

    • Lauren says...

      Ashley, that would be a great way to introduce the concept of middle “men”, too! I grew up on a farm, and like every other job, there are hundreds or thousands employees other than just farmers that help to produce, process, transport, and sell our food! Just buying a tractor alone involves everything from miners to salespeople, and all of the people who support those roles: accountants and managers and janitors and truck drivers and policemen and doctors and on and on. Farmers are educated by teachers and parents, might read about farming in papers produced by different companies, buy animals that are studied and bred by people in universities and so on… we are all connected, and it would be hard to think of any one job that doesn’t in some way contribute to another. An acrobat, for example, might provide entertainment for any other worker connected to the agricultural industry (which again, is everyone!), and thereby help refresh them, or make them enjoy having earned money to spend on a show, and so on. How about connecting your own jobs to the food you eat? I’m sure it would be easy :) And why limit it to food? There’s the chair you’re sitting on, the system that’s keeping the room temperature livable, and on and on. :P This is a long comment, but I don’t think that just teaching kids that “farmers grow food” and “dentists fix teeth” really cover what matters: the equal importance of everybody, you know?

  92. Jessica says...

    Oh, Anton. I could learn a bit about gratitude from him.

    As a side note, I’m not a parent and often ignore parenting-themed articles and posts on other sites I read, except for CoJ. And this is a good example why–they are interesting and inclusive and sometimes surprisingly relevant to my own life.

  93. Julia says...

    Be grateful yourself. As with everything else, children will model what we do as parents. If they realize that we actually appreciate what and who we have, things are going to fall into place.

  94. Lauren Hildreth says...

    A novel and strategic approach that I’ve found and would like to try is @simplyonpurpose ‘s “family economy.” Ralphie has a whole system for teaching children about the value of money and empowering them to earn and to reap the rewards of their industriousness. Her four girls (who range in age from 6 to 14) have age-appropriate understandings of where money comes from and how to use it, and they seem confident in their ability to manage it. Ralphie also solves the cash problem by creating a family bank (her girls write checks that she “cashes” for them—i.e., she pulls cash from her purse when they want to spend it, but they have to have that money in their “accounts” in order to do so); and she separates allowance from other money that they can earn around the house while keeping integrated the idea that each ought to contribute to daily chores simply because they are part of the family unit. It’s unlike anything else I’ve heard about!!

  95. Stephanie says...

    For my older son’s fifth birthday this year, he invited a bunch of friends and we added “no gifts, please” to the invitation. Two big firsts! I worried how he might react to the idea of not opening presents, but he was totally chill about it.

    For 2+ hours he ran around the park with his pals, laughing and having a good time. Later in the day, he got a gift from us and his grandparents. He was SO grateful–over the top excited for those two gifts. Such a departure from previous years! :)

    Make me curious: how do other parents approach simplicity and gratefulness during the Christmas season? We made good strides last year toward helping others and keeping gifts simple, but I’d love to hear more ideas! :)

    • Naomi Erwich says...

      I definitely struggle with this, especially during the holiday season. While I have asked family members to reel in the number of gifts — it brings joy to them to give gifts so I haven’t yet found a solution.

      I love the no gifts please for birthdays for gifts from friends and that has worked out well. In the spirt of no goods exchanging hands, I also don’t give out party favors.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “For 2+ hours he ran around the park with his pals, laughing and having a good time. Later in the day, he got a gift from us and his grandparents. He was SO grateful–over the top excited for those two gifts. Such a departure from previous years! :)” = this is wonderful. i’d love to do this in the future. thank you so much for the inspiration.

    • Marci says...

      One idea that I heard that worked for us is to not ask, “What do you want for Christmas?” Seriously, so many well-meaning people ask that question that it’s no wonder that kids focus on the presents.

      Instead, turn the question around to giving. “How can we show (name) that we love him/her?” That may mean a gift under a tree, or a gift of time, or an experience together. We have played “Secret Santa” and shoveled an elderly neighbor’s walk, given a plate of cookies to a single neighbor who relies on pizza delivery for meals, and taken small cousins out to a movie so that their parents can finish wrapping and shopping.

      We also have had our children shop for and buy small gifts for each other. They have so much fun picking out things that they know their sibling will love. There truly is joy in giving!

    • Ellen says...

      I heard this rhyme a few years back on how to do Christmas presents and have adopted this as our gifting policy for our daughter: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. Boom.

    • Megan says...

      I love this! A family we’re very close with have a son that has spent some time at our local children’s hospital, and his birthday is in December. Every year, they ask that in lieu of gifts for their son, to bring a new, unwrapped toy, and their family goes to the children’s hospital with the gifts to give to the children there. I just love the idea of this — giving back to a wonderful hospital that the family has spent some time at and helping bring a little joy to the other children that are now at the hospital.

      And when I was young, one year our family adopted a family — my sister and I got to pick out presents for the two little girls in the adopted family, and my parents picked out gifts for the parents. I still remember so many details of it to this day. We talked so much about what it means to give to others that have less than we do, and it had a really big impact on me, even though I was maybe only six or seven years old. My husband and I have been talking about doing the same with our boys (4 and 6) and just doing one or two small gifts for our boys instead.

      I love hearing all of the different ways y’all are teaching your kids about money, as well as giving back:)

    • Gillian says...

      We have 4 kids ages 11 to 3. This year we have already discussed that we are going to focus on experiences not toys as gifts. That way the grandparents can still feel like they are giving the kids something. We got a membership to the museum of natural history from my dad a few years ago and the kids loved going and we would send him pictures every time we went. They got so much more out of that than another lego set.

      We also do no gifts at birthday parties. Such a relief not to be dreading an influx of plastic with every birthday.

    • Ali says...

      We have friends with children that have taken a religious approach to Christmas. Three presents only – like the gifts of the Magi. The kids love it, and choose wisely.

    • Brittany says...

      I’m not a parent, but when I was a kid, my family instituted a rule that every Christmas gift had to either be used or home-made. We all enjoyed keeping an eye out for the perfect gift at antique stores or goodwill for months! Also, some of those home-made gifts have become treasured mementos (Dad made me a miniature stables that lives in our bedroom). We lived well below the poverty line until I was about 16 and I never knew it.

    • Hilary says...

      Stephanie I was getting ready to ask the same question about the holidays! We hope to go very minimal and do experiences as gifts- take our daughter to the zoo, a special outing, etc. but people seem so confused by this! She’s a baby so I have time but I’d love to hear more how people navigate Christmas and other gift giving occasions while keeping it minimal.

    • Caroline says...

      My kids are 2.5 and newly 5, and have November and January birthdays. My husband and I talked about doing experience gifts for birthdays, and toys, etc for Christmas. So far we haven’t actually done this because I haven’t quite seen a need. Maybe it’s because I’m home with them, but by the time Christmas rolls around, I am more than ready for some new things to do once the cold weather keeps us inside so much. We are lucky in that our kids are super into board games, books, and building toys, as well as crafts and sports/games. I don’t feel too bad about getting new things (or used) in these categories because I feel like they need more advanced puzzles and games and books at this age. I also bought the 5 year old a real tool set designed for kids this year. He loves doing the kids workshops at Home Depot. I think if you are intentional about what comes into your house, and pass along things your kids are too old for, there is no need to feel guilty for getting gifts for your kids. Especially if it’s stuff you would have bought anyway. Amazon wishlists are amazing for making sure we’ll mea relatives don’t buy plastic junk that will just clutter your house.

  96. Meg says...

    We have a 7 year old and 5 year old. I haven’t been so great about number 2 (we have a basement full of toys that don’t get played with!) but we’ve started to figure out numbers 1 and 6. For allowance, we do a weekly amount that is unrelated to chores. They get the same number of dollars as their age each week (when we remember). They sometimes use this money to pay for things that they want when it isn’t Christmas or a birthday. For example my daughter saved several weeks of allowance for a toy that she now plays with almost every day. My son wanted new slippers but when he realized how much of his allowance he would need to spend he decided to keep wearing his (perfectly fine) old ones.
    For chores, our kids have to clear the table after dinner. They also have to do one chore of my choosing before they get screen time on week days. It was rocky at first but now they expect this and don’t complain too much.

    • Meg says...

      Oh and we call chores “family contributions”!

    • Natasha says...

      I love the “family contributions” label instead of chores!

    • Meg says...

      I keep thinking of other things. :) we also tried to do the spend/share/save jars but it seemed a little beyond our kids for right now. But they do use some of their “share” money to buy gifts for each other and we make sure to do multiple service projects each year that they can actively participate in (warming kits for the homeless, food bank activities etc).

    • Gillian says...

      We do this too. I use and app on my phone so I don’t have to actually remember to pay them. At our house we call chores “responsibilities” and they are just part of living in our house. I have “responsibilities” too.

  97. Louisa says...

    Something I love about my neighborhood is that it is a relatively mixed income. There are apartments next to mansions. And all the kids on our block play together. So you wind up naturally having very frank conversations about money, because the kids have those conversations themselves.

    It’s also important to me (I know this varies!) that my kid sees me being generous — not writing a check or clicking on a go-fund-me page, but actually handing money to someone who asks.

    And this: “It’s one of my goals in life to raise boys who always jump up to clear tables.” YES!

  98. Alexandra says...

    My daughter is almost 3 years old. Her dad died of cancer in July of this year; when he was alive we always made a tradition of doing “Sunday Gratitudes,” where we would each say one thing we were grateful for while eating dinner on Sunday. I just started doing it with my daughter, and it feels like a grounding way for both of us to recognize the bounty that we do have despite a huge loss. Two things she has recently been grateful for: “Lunch,” and “my pre-school.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      the’s really lovely, alexandra. and i’m so so sorry for your loss.

    • Samantha says...

      that is a really beautiful practice, alexandra. sending you a big giant hug- i will be thinking about you and your daughter this holiday season <3

  99. I love this series. Great sponsorship. After reading ‘Simplicity Parenting’ and also wielding my Virgo powers, I make it a quarterly habit to consolidate toys. Additionally, for birthdays, we request donations as opposed to new gifts to limit the amount of toys/kid stuff we have and also, it’s a nice thing to do. As a side note, we’re trying to instill the values shared with us by our own parents. While I grew up slightly above the poverty line and my husband grew up in an upper middle class family, our parents never gave us everything we asked for both because they financially couldn’t but also to discourage us from viewing “stuff,” as valuable. Experiences mean so much more.