Dear Dr. Bill,
I'm a stay-at-home Mom and my husband works hard to keep our family fed, housed and healthy. But we don't have money for extra frills - like the latest toys or special activities that might engage the imagination of our 8-year-old son. Brandon seems happy and normal - but I wonder how we can enlarge his world and make his childhood years more meaningful. Do you have any suggestions?
Today’s parents are under a tremendous amount of pressure to buy the latest educational toys and video games for their kids, send them to expensive computer camps, and basically spend wads of cash making sure their kids aren’t deprived of everything our consumerist culture has to offer.
You should know that the most well-adjusted, happy kids aren’t those who are involved in a zillion different activities and own every electronic gizmo on the market.
The kids who thrive best are those who have committed, involved parents who spend time with them on a regular basis, take a real interest in their lives, and emphasize character over consumerism. If you’re feeling guilty because you don’t have the money to buy Brandon everything our culture tells you he needs…don’t.
There are dozens of ways you can provide stimulating activities for your son that don’t cost much money. A great place to start is your local library.
You can help Brandon to check out books and DVDs that will introduce him to new people and places. Most libraries also have web access and many offer special after school learning enrichment programs.
You should also be taking advantage of public museums, science centers, and zoos in your area, most of which offer low cost or free kids’ programs. This may involve a special weekend trip once in a while, but it’s well worth the time and effort.
Thanks for writing, Janie. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.