tumblr page counter
HOME about press book archives+categories contact Chrisy Ross on twitter Chrisy Ross on facebook subscribe by RSS subscribe by email
buy the book
To Mormons, With Love
buy the book
buy now buy now buy now
buy the ebook
iBook Kindle Nook
Chrisy Ross on twitter
« Like a Training Bra | Main | Em - the Cancer who had cancer. »

"...it's wasted on the crappiest generation of just spoiled idiots..." Louis C.K.

It's not what you have, it's who you are.  I tell my kids this all the time.  I also tell them, there's no shame in having and enjoying nice things, we simply don't judge people by their possessionsSomeone may have a larger home with more "stuff" to play with - that doesn't translate to good or bad, just a person with more stuff.  Then we review the opposite example...  Someone may have a smaller home with less "stuff" to play with - again, not good or bad, just a person with less stuff.  It's who a person is that's important.  I think our two oldest boys get it.

Cheri at Blog This Mom included a wonderful link in her recent blog post.  It's a clip that's making the rounds so many of you may have seen it.  If not, it's worth the four minutes.  Conan O'Brien is interviewing the comedian Louis C.K., and Louis riffs about how AMAZING life is and how spoiled we are.  It's funny and true.  YouTube embedding has been disabled for the clip, but click on the link and watch it - "Everything's amazing, nobody's happy..." 

Chris and I continually struggle with how much is too much with our kids.  Our boys are far from spoiled, but also have plenty to play with, and have rarely been denied a requested "special" gift for a birthday or holiday.  We've made it clear what the boundaries are so they don't ask for things they know aren't kosher in our home.  They don't seem bothered and haven't complained about desperately wanting something that we don't believe is appropriate.  I can honestly say, I don't think our boys are "bummed" that they don't have game systems [other than Wii], cell phones, or computers in their rooms with Internet access.  Oldest Boy [11], Middle Boy [9], and Toddler Child [3] seem content to play board games, build things with Lego's, watch some television, and play approved games on the family computer.  When they're outside, they play.  I mean, they really play.  They look for sticks and rocks and bugs.  They build forts in the bushes, ride bikes and run to nowhere.

The goal isn't to raise our kids to be so counterculture that other kids view them as socially off.  But my fear is... that it's happening.  Chris and I have discussed this and are united in our opinion that it's not worth it to join the mainstream on some of our issues.  We just can't.

I confess, sometimes I want to.  It's about me though, not the kids.

I spoke with a friend last week and reminded her how much we'd love to have she, her husband and kids over for dinner.  I knew as adults we'd visit and eat and drink and laugh... but, I impulsively said, "Will your kids be okay playing with our kids?  We don't have a big screen TV with a game system in the basement, or lots of cool play equipment in the backyardWe have rocks and sticks."

She was very gracious and said, "Heck yeah!  They'll have a blast!"

After thinking about how concerned I felt for our boys and the possible social judgment they might endure based on what "stuff" they did or did not have, I realized that when I tell my kids, It's not what you have, it's who you are, I need to remind myself... it's the truth.

Reader Comments (35)

Great blog, Chris. I am happy to report that we were the "only family in the world" not to have nintendo (shows my age!). We had some educational computer games and my kids did what kids have done for hundreds of years (and survived), they just played! Legos, forts, stuffed animals, etc. They are fairly well adjusted adults, although they still complain that they "stink" at video games. It's true, I've watched them! YAY for us!
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpam
I'm not sure where will stand on this issue when the time comes because we are a Tech family with multiple computers and smart phones and their Dad is in the process of designing a game...

There are many things we aren't going to allow that I know for sure....TV's in bedrooms and I'm sure we will have a family computer that I hopefully will not have to share with them.

Sometimes it makes me sad that the kids won't grow up like I did...no computer, a phone that was attached to the wall and 4 channels on the TV. It is such a different world...
Eventually - kids let you know if they feel "deprived." And it sounds like yours are perfectly happy with what they have.

Which if you think about it - is kind of a feat considering the fact that ALL kids feel deprived of something at some point.
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate Coveny Hood
We have a lot of that technology available to our kids, but I'm comforted that they still prefer being outdoors, playing make-believe with stuffed animals, or building a fort using the sofa cushions. I thought for sure there would be a link to "Last Child in the Woods" somewhere in this post... :-)
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMs. Maxwell
We have a pre-schooler and 4 teenaged boys. We have NEVER believed in computers or televisions in their rooms...we don't have the latest and the greatest "nintendo" and we don't subscribe to the "Jonesy" way of life. Its tough to be that way when our kids attend the same schools as children who get a new Range Rover for their 16th birthday. They don't complain (much :) I think that now they think that they are better off for it. I know I think so.

Bravo to you for letting them work on their imaginations and creativity....it will serve them far better in life than having a cool toy.

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
Pam - Thank you. I had a "strict" mom too - no Atari Pong in our house. (That's older than Nintendo!)

Connie - I'm not anti-tech. My husband's a marketing technology guy, borderline geeky. It's more a statement of excess. Excess anything, and age appropriateness. I recognize each child is different and matures at their own rate. Technology is great!

Kate Coveny Hood - I think you're right. For being the mother of such young children, you have the wisdom of someone much older!

Ms. Maxwell - Again, I'm not anti-technology. It's balance and excess that concern me, and growing-up a little too fast in some cases. I thought if I linked to the book, I would sound completely "anti-technology", and I'm not. If you haven't already, you really should watch the link. It's great!
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris
Robin - Sounds like you and Al are swimming upstream too. Sometimes it feels like we're the only ones... Thank you for the comment and the support. LOVE, Chrisy
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris
The other night a friend dropped by with a bottle of wine for some girlfriend time. I couldn't find any wine glasses (don't ask) so she drank her wine out of a plastic sip cup with an attached straw. Yep, I'm that pathetic. And yet, we had a wonderful time and I feel immensely grateful for the two of hours of quality time with a friend - it really isn't what you have, it's who you are (like you said - adults need that reminder, too).
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCorbie
Corbie - *grabbing chest, wheezing* YOU GOT ME. You know how I love wine in a real glass. *sigh* But, with you, I would cheerfully and thankfully drink wine out of a sippy cup (I can't believe I'm saying this...), and even... out of a straw. (Oh god.)

You're not pathetic. You're funny, and fun! Sounds like you have a good girlfriend too. (One of many, I'm certain.)
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris
You compliment me! I meant I was the mother when we didn't have Nintendo!! HAHA! In my mother's house, we didn't even get color TV until I was in middle school (at least they called it middle school... not ancient history!!)
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpam
With you on this !

The kids (mine are 12, 9 and 6) have a computer in the playroom next to where I do my stuff on my computer. That way I keep an eye on what they are doing.

I love that it seems to keep their attention for a while but then they race outside to play for ages - one of the reasons we moved to the mountains was so they could enjoy greater freedom.
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermary
Growing up, I wasn't allowed to watch tv (except Thursday night nbc line-up and a few saturday morning cartoons). I had a lot of excess toys but my parents really stressed playing outside and being outside. They were a little counter culture...but as it turns out kids like playing with other kids in new situations, right? I mean sticks and rocks are new toys to some...
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeidre
I love that clip from Louis C.K. It's so true. And you really need to get your boys the best toy EVER - a refrigerator box.Love, Claire
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiddle-Aged-Woman
My kid would be thrilled to live in your home.... legos are the only thing he thinks about these days. And he'd play with sticks 24/7 if I let him! (They make great lightsabers.) Sure, we do have a hand-me-down PS2 in his room, but he plays it on a small tv from 1990 and only has about 5 games, so I don't consider him ruined. I refuse to get a new game system for at least 4 or 5 years. (I'm cheap and he doesn't realize that much cooler ones exist yet anyway;-) I agree with you, spoiling kids does just that, SPOILS them.
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. D
Such a great post! That Louis C.K clip is hilarious and so true.
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterthe mama bird diaries
Excellent post Chris.

I do my best to balance in this area. Laura has a computer, but it is next to mine, not in her room. She does not have a TV in her room, nor will she ever have one. And, despite that a number of kids in her class have them, she doesn't have a cell phone. Our family has a Wii, she uses Tom's iPod Touch (because he never does), and mostly she LOVES to read and learn, so that's good.

We all know how I love my laptop and iPhone boyfriends, so I'm not advocating for a minimalist upbringing by any means, but here's where I've settled in terms of what I want for my child:

I want Laura's focus in this world to be as a contributor, not a consumer.

That doesn't mean that she shouldn't have access to a computer and knowledge of things that are out there (in fact, that might help her be a contributor), but it shouldn't be the goal to have those things.

I'm rambling.

Time to go watch American Idol. :-D
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCheri @ Blog This Mom!
Profoundly put - and I confess, I'm enormously fond of unplugged, both for the kids as well as for Mom and Dad!We love rocks and sticks around here!
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwe_be_toys
OMG! The Teddybear and I are saying the exact same things. Neither of us grew up with a lot, and we had the BEST childhoods (cancer and all). :P

So I'm TOTALLY with you on this.

Of course, I call the "internet fairy godmother" card and reserve the right to take my internet god kids to laser tag if I ever make my way to Utah. :P

Hugs, BB!
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterthedemigod
I watched that video twice. Hilarious and you are so right. Phoebe does not have a lot of toys and she knows she has to earn most of what she has. Unfortunately, I am doing all this while dealing with an ex who loves to say yes to so much of what she wants. It's hard being the bad guy all the time but someone has to.
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
I totally agree with you! And it's important to stand firm in this belief, even if other kids get whatever they want. In the end, we are helping them learn some important lessons in life... lessons that we too need to remember as adults.
April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLady Fi
It's a great lesson that I should remember to talk to my kids about. They've been a little too young so far but maybe it's never too early to talk about these things.

And that video is hilarious. I've watched it a couple of times and each time he makes me laugh out loud. He's got great timing and delivery.
April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnastasia
I have something special for you! Like a pedophile with candy, eh? Come see my blog.

Love, Claire
April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiddle-Aged-Woman
Pam - You're funny! I figured you weren't talking about your own childhood. *winky-winky*

Mary - Where you live... looks like heaven to me. Your blog is beautiful.

Deidre - This is why you're such a good person! Loving parents.

Dear Claire, You are SO RIGHT! I'll let you know when that happens. Love, Chris

Mrs. D. - I don't think all gaming systems are bad. I'm an advocate of moderation and age-appropriateness. I'm sure your sweet boy is far from "ruined". He'll be an excellent example for the little boy we're all waiting to meet. Hope you're feeling well!

Mama Bird - I'm so thankful to Cheri for sharing it initially (the clip). I've watched it several times now and I still laugh!

Cheri - Thank you. I LOVE your parenting focus - creating a contributor, not a consumer. What a wonderful way to look at it, and I agree, technology is wonderful and these kids should be educated on how to use the tools. It's only going to get better. Laura is NOT one of the "crappiest generation of just spoiled idiots..." that Louis C.K. describes. She's being raised by intelligent, thoughtful, loving parents who are doing a fabulous job. [PS: We also stress to our boys that there's no shame in having and enjoying "nice" things. We don't want them to feel guilty if we're able to purchase something, like a new snowboard, that other kids may not have. It's about gratitude and not taking things for granted... Now I'm rambling!]

We Be Toys - I need to unplug a little more. I'm really trying. Your recent post reminded me how rich life is away from the computer screen - the good, and the bad. Thank you.

Demigod - You can play your "internet fairy godmother" card when you want! The boys love laser tag. You should blog about your and Teddybear's childhoods. [You're almost home... hang in there!]

Jessica - He's a funny guy. I was reading about him, I guess he wrote for David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, and Chris Rock... I imagine it's difficult when ex-hubby always plays the role of "Disneyland Dad". Sounds like you're doing a great job. I don't know how you do it, I really don't.

Lady Fi - Bingo. Adults DO need to remember, myself included.

Anastasia - I started talking with my kids about excess and gratitude when they were young, and I might have made my oldest son feel guilty. Some of it's his personality, but I feel a bit badly. Parenting's difficult.

Claire - Oh boy! On my way!
April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris
I think it's the kids that determine if they are spoiled or not. Mine have fun playing the Wii, but have just as much fun playing with the half deflated raggedy soccer ball in the dirt out back of the house. Some kids are cool like that, and some aren't.

BTW, glad to see you on Blondefabulocity. My two diabetics are now 10 & 7, but were diagnosed at 16 months and 2 years, so they've had it a while. I hope you come back by again!
April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBlondefabulous
I am so with you on this. I just made a post on kids and cell phones. No way will my kids own one till their 16. I love seeing them play with their imaginations. My kids get so into it that they'll even come crying to me that the other spilt 'juice' on them or the carpet while playing with their kitchen toys.And yes, I wonder if they have enough, then I go clean up their toys and snap out of it.

I love the clip!

April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
We have raised our kids the same way. Actually, more social off than you are! And they seem to be fine. I've worried about them occasionally, like you do, but mostly I'm thrilled with how they have turned out.
April 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdebbie
I cannot get enough of that video.

Anyway, I struggle with this all the time --especially living in Southern California -- and I constantly work to remind myself that the "things" do not make a person.

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSan Diego Momma
Blondefabulous - Thanks for returning the visit! I'll email you. Would love to chat more about diabetes situation with your kids.

Jennifer - Cute that your kids even pretend spills and actually cry about them. I'll pop over and read your post!

Debbie - I'm mostly pleased when I watch our two older boys interact and how the behave compared to many other kids. It's still difficult sometimes.

San Diego Momma - I imagine there are parts of the country where excess and materialism are a tougher battle to fight than here.
April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris
GREAT post. I get this, so well. We are a bit behind whatever the current game systems are (haven't bought the Wii yet, but my son has Playstation now (I think? I'd have to look!). I want them to know what's going on in their world, but they don't need to know all of it, either. They probably watch more television than they should, but they self-control that almost as much as I control it. They would rather play with their friends up the street (which is mostly active play or building stuff), and as long as that remains true, I'm happy.

This was a good reminder to keep some perspective.
April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer H
I read this post a couple of days ago and didn't have time to comment. But I thought about it again today when we were at the pool with some other moms and their babies. One of them sort of takes it to the extreme - no tv, no anything with characters faces or names on them, etc. I hope to be in the middle, like you. A tv, but only one. (I didn't even have a working tv for years before I met my husband.) A computer for the kids, but in the family room area, etc.

My favorite childhood memories all involve pillow forts, playing games outside in the neighborhood and dressing up. Simple? Maybe. But utterly delightful!
April 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchristy
Ha! Rocks and sticks, that's all my kids would need.
April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCaptain Dumbass
Kelly's got the Wii but only the sports games, to move her body. So I figure I'm a pretty good mom!

I love the idea of kids working at something long-term such as a musical instrument, sport, art or other activity and sticking with it to really appreciate delayed gratification. Any parent who's working towards that with a kid is on the right track, in my opinion.

And I love your stuff idea vs WHO you are. Of course, I already know you're an inceredible parent - so I'm not surprised.
April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJannie Funster
We are still playing PS2 games on our very-not widescreen, very-not HDTV. None of my kids have cellphones. We do have a nice computer for the kids, but it's in the living room, out in the open, and all four of them have to share.

I too think about how people will perceive us when they come over. But, so far, our house is still the happening spot, because I make mean pancakes for breakfast and love to wrestle.

We are happy. And that's contagious . . .
May 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertysdaddy
I suffer from the same worries about my kids, too. And then, like you, I realize that I have done my very best to instill in them the idea that it really is "who they are" that matters. Anyone who doesn't get that isn't a worthy friend.
May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDa Goddess
Just wanted to say hey.

May 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commentervodkamom

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>