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How do you respond to 'Why do they have more than us'?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Today we experienced something we've been waiting for.....a car ride home from a friend's house that involved tears about 'why we don't have what they have' (as 'nice' a house, as 'nice' of things, etc....)? Our daughter is almost seven, has attended a Waldorf preschool kindergarten for the last three years and is about to step into the grades at our local 'big' k-12 Waldorf school next year....and, because of the diveristy of the world, we still (obviously) mingle with folks that have so much more 'things' wise than us. We live in a very small house in a sorta scrappy neighborhood. We're basically fine with this - our current house is not our life house (we plan to move sometime soon), but we'll certainly be moving into something just a bit bigger, yet not more than we'll need for sure! In a nutshell, we're fine living small and have tried to instill our values in our daughter, yet it broke our hearts to hear 'why do they have all that and we don't'? Any suggestions on what to say/how to respond when something like this happens?

post #2 of 13
I pointed out the items DD did have or did get to do because we did without something that were different from what her friends had for the most part. For items I was against owning I told her why. When she fixated on an item I suggested she save her money to buy the item or put it on her birthday list.

I found that this phase was more about trying to understand differences than about trying to measure up materialistically. Knowing she had ways she was special and unique was enough for my DD not to worry about accumulating more things.
post #3 of 13
I'm not there yet myself; DD is a toddler. The one family who is really obviously more wealthy than us is in the extended family and she has a cousin in that family. If/when this comes up, I plan to explain that they work very very hard to have what they have and don't get to spend nearly as much time together as a family as we do. We have less but have time to spend together. They had their little boy in daycare from late infancy but I could stay home and care for her. This is very truthfully why we live where we live and have what we have. I'm sure it won't go as simply as that but that's my plan smile.gif
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks One_Girl - those are all great responses. I like the focus on finding ways she's special and unique. yummy.gif


Some of my daughter's friends have GIANT, gorgeous houses filled to the brim with amazing things...it's just such a stark contrast! These are kids that go to her school (our standard 'we choose to use our money for this...' response) and yet they still seem to have it all......explaining voluntary simplicity seems harder than I thought!

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks skycheattraffic for sharing your plan! I often forget to point things like that out (family choices).


It really did seem like all of the sudden my daughter's eyes were really open to these differences (and she's almost 7!), so it took a while for us!


In our case, I work and my husband is in school....I could point out that lots of these families have two incomes (although not all! ack!) and we choose to live differently.

post #6 of 13
I bet the families with one income who have lots also have the working parent very very busy, with immense pressure and responsibility who gets very little time with the children. We are very lucky in that DH is a teacher and apart from a few intense periods, he's home by 4-4:30 and his weekends are open. Then there are the lovely breaks in the school year too. We considered moving to a more suburban area with newer houses but it would have more than doubled our mortgage. We're happy where we are, just renewed our mortgage for a 15 (!) year amortization (hope interest rates stay low) and I can easily walk with DD to a ton of places. The family I mention recently moved to a huge new house and I overheard the mom say "that's what 30 year mortgages are for". Needless to say I felt even better about living with less wink1.gif
post #7 of 13
This is intense for a 7 year old but just because family A has a bunch of stuff doesn't mean they can afford if, KWIM? We aren't carrying debt apart from the mortgage and a small car loan and are saving up for post secondary education and retirement. I'm not convinced every family with a 4000 sq ft house and two luxury vehicles can say the same wink1.gif
post #8 of 13

I've mostly managed this kind of thing by making sure my dc know what we appreciate and enjoy about what we do have. I find if I am comfortable with what we have and don't have, then they are less inclined to become envious about other families. 


We've chosen to live in comparably small houses for a lot of different reasons. Cost is only one of them. Environmental awareness is another: we like to minimize our environmental footprint. Ease is another. I don't like spending all of my time housecleaning so I like having a relatively small house. We have moved fairly often and it's easier to pack up a smaller household. 


Envy is contagious. If children observe that their parents are envious and dissatisfied, they are likely to feel the same way. I've tried to teach my dc to admire without envy. If my dc mention that someone has a nice home or neat "stuff", I usually acknowledge it - I'll even agree that they are very lucky to have those things - but without envy. Yes, other people have nice things. So do we, but they are different things. We also have spent money on experiences, such as travel, rather than on owning things. That kind of distinction tends to be lost on very young children, but as they get older they start to understand it.  

post #9 of 13
Hmm my only thought is that it might be a good time to talk about the concept of gratitude - being thankful for those things you do have. And talking about simplicity and mindfulness and not finding your happiness from things outside yourself, and all that kind of stuff. smile.gif I wonder if there are any children's books about zen principles like that.
post #10 of 13
We live in an area of great wealth. It is in fact the wealthiest county in the USA .i have told my sons that some of there friends will have more so will have less. One of my son's have noticed how small the homes of some of his friends are .
We told him we have lived in small homes and we may one day live in one again. They know to be happy with what they have.
post #11 of 13
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

Envy is contagious. If children observe that their parents are envious and dissatisfied, they are likely to feel the same way. I've tried to teach my dc to admire without envy. 

I agree with the above. 


My children have noticed people who have more than us, people who have less or people who simply spend differently.  We discuss choices, debt, timing (we are older parents and have had years to accumulate 'stuff' and pay off debt where some children have young parents who are just starting out), why we sometimes buy/do not buy to support our beliefs, etc.    My children are eight and we have talked with them about financial choices for years...they seem to have a pretty good understanding of why we have or do not have compared with other people.  They understand and can appreciate why/how others live differently - hopefully without judgment or envy. 

post #12 of 13

We talk about choices and trade-offs, circumstances and situations we can control and not.


Three easy examples -


Dad could make more money if he travels but we like having him home with us.


He could also make more if we lived in another part of the country, but we like being close to family so we moved back here.


I choose to stay home because I like being able to volunteer at school/be here when she gets home/etc.

post #13 of 13
We have decided to spend our resources (financial, energy, and time) on many things that enhance our lives, but stuff for the sake of stuff isn't at the top of the list. My older child loves to travel. She's often content with gifts in the form of trips rather than gadgets. The younger one loves dance and gymnastics. So I pay for classes instead of tons of toys. When the girls occasionally grumble or gripe, I point out that we are building memories and skills that they'll have forever, instead of a bunch of stuff that'll be in a landfill in a few years.
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