If You’re Going to Spoil Them, Do It Here

Our kids ask for a lot of stuff. Time, sure, but lots of stuff. They want you to add money to their Roblox account. They want a new car. They want you to buy them a toy from the store. They want a treat at the gas station and that piece of memorabilia from the gift shop.

We know we can’t give them everything they want…and even if we could afford to, we know that we (and they) would pay for it later. We are trying to raise, as Ron Lieber’s lovely book is titled, kids who are The Opposite of Spoiled.

So what do we say yes to and what do we say no to? There is no hard and fast rule, but perhaps there are three areas we can be comfortable being a little extra in (at least when we’ve got the funds to).

First, when our kids want a book, we should buy it. ​We’re trying to raise readers​ and the impulse to want to read is one to always encourage. You never know which books will change your kid’s life, but you can be certain you’re going to have to buy a lot of them to find it.

Second, when our kids are interested in trying a new kind of food—it’s probably worth getting in the car and going to a restaurant (or better, as we learned from Kwame Onwuachi’s mom, ​try to figure out how to cook it.​) Tell them no when they want fast food, but when they ask you what sushi tastes like, make it happen. When they tell you they want to eat squid-ink pasta or pierogies, make it happen.

And thirdly, when your kids express interest in traveling somewhere, make it happen. We’re not talking about Disneyland though. When they tell you they’re studying the Aztecs and Mayans in school, plan a trip. When they ask you about Da Vinci, get the family to Italy. When they tell you they liked that sushi, see you can’t get them to Japan to try real sushi. When they tell you their friend went to Buccee’s, take a road trip. When they see a video about a national park, plan a visit. When they read a book about the Civil War, take them to the battlefields. When they speak in awe about the bright lights of the Big Apple or beaches in Florida or the deserts in West Texas, make it happen.

Books. Travel. Culture. Spoil them rotten with these things. To the best of your ability, show them everything you can here. Immerse them in them. Immerse yourself in them. That’s how we raise kids who are the opposite of spoiled—by stoking their curiosity about people and ideas and places that are different from them.

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