Once in a while we all need to stop and think about what we are teaching our children. More precisely, to think about what has influenced the way we think today. Is it based on real life values like love or on the status pressures created by the world in which we live? Are we training our children to be consumers or have real life values?

We may have grown up in a difficult situation and desperately we don’t want our children to struggle in the same manner. With good intention, we may spend long hours working to earn enough money to buy all our kids need. But how much is enough and what do our children really need?

What our kids really need is good values, character and the skills to live life. This cannot be bought with money. Good values, character and life skills require our personal involvement and time. These skills should include how to work to achieve what we want, how to do without and delay gratification. When we have to go without, we face the challenge of what our peers think or say. We then have to think about what is of real value and what really matters, what is important. Are we willing to work to achieve that? Another term for this is hardship, but hardship builds character.

Just imagine for a moment your son (or daughter) is picked for the athletics team. All his team mates have the latest designer running gear but you choose to give him stock item trainers. Immediately he is faced with a crisis of value of who he is in their eyes. Here is an opportunity to build lasting character.

He should be getting his value in whom he is and not in what he is wearing. It is our parental task to re-enforce this. He is our child and that is important. It is not what he does or how well or poorly he performs that determines his value as a person.

He could learn that it is his athletic ability that wins races not shoes. From this he will be able to learn not to blame equipment but look to preserving in his training.  He can learn that with training he can out perform those with the latest designer gear – which builds further value.

This is an opportunity to teach him how to handle finances, to budget and save for special running shoes. In turn he will learn to place valve in them and look after them better because they did not come ‘cheap’.

It should be our desire to do what is best for our children. This will mean allowing them to face hardship and difficulties. Not allowing them to struggle in the safety of the family environment transforms them into consumers without teaching the ethics of working. Consumers don’t value others but are self-centred, chasing the next thing that gives them status or makes them feel good. Struggles and hardship creates an appreciation for life and builds character that money can’t buy.

Ultimately, our children need us not our money. Don’t think for a single moment that we can replace ‘us’ with things that money can buy.