Feeling guilty about not being able to afford this season's lastest-and-greatest tablet, phone, or video game console for your kids? Particularly if you're a single parent doing it all alone, you already know how important it is to manage your money wisely. So when you feel discouraged by the affluenza that surrounds you, remember this: you're giving your children the things that matter most. And they're not "things" at all. Need a reminder? Here's a list of ten things that matter more to your children than money:
Love. Your kids need your unconditional love more than anything you could ever purchase for them. Every day, your love demonstrates to your children that they're valuable and worthy of being loved -- not because of anything they've done, but just because they're your kids. And that gift is one that will impact their self-worth for their entire lives.
Time. Kids spell love t-i-m-e. Just being with them, and asking about what's going on in their lives, makes them feel valuable. And when you take a time-out from your responsibilities to choose to do something with them -- like playing your kids' favorite board game or enjoying a family movie night -- you show them that they're more important than anything else that's going on.
Structure. Kids need boundaries and limits in order to prepare for life beyond childhood -- where they're bound to hear "no" and face real-life constraints and deadlines. So don't hold back on instilling structure at home. Work with your kids to create routines to make your day-to-day lives more manageable while also reinforcing the life skills they'll need to be successful.
Manners. Want your children to really succeed in life? Teach them manners, like saying "please" and "thank you," how to introduce themselves, and how to show courtesy and respect to others. In a world of "me, me, me" good manners will make your kids stand out from the crowd!
Responsibility. You may feel guilty as a single parent when you can't always run over to school when your kids forget to get a paper signed or leave their lunch at home, but not stepping in to rescue them every time actually teaches responsibility -- and that's another skill that will help your kids succeed in the real world.
Perseverance. You demonstrate this character trait every time you press on through challenging circumstances -- from working extra shifts to pay for your kids' extra curricular activities to doing what you can to rebuild trust with your ex -- even when that means swallowing your pride or taking the high road.
Consistency. There are few surprises at your house because your kids already know what you expect of them, from bedtime routines to homework. And that consistency makes it easier for them to comply with those expectations and maintain successful habits.
Authenticity. You love your kids for precisely who they are, and you give them permission to be themselves. This gives them the confidence to be their authentic selves out in the world, too, and that's something to celebrate!
Encouragement. Your ever-present "you can do it!" spirit is the fuel that keeps your kids going through their biggest challenges. They may not articulate it, but it means more to them than you know.
Honesty. Finally, your effort to be honest with your kids -- whether you're talking about your ex or your own challenges -- helps them feel understood and acknowledged. It's not easy, because it means being vulnerable with them, but your effort to be as open and honest as you can -- while being careful not disclosing too much or inappropriate information -- helps them absorb some of the things you've learned along with way.