“The scholars who research happiness suggest that more money stops making people happier at a family income of around seventy-five thousand dollars a year. After that, what economists call “diminishing marginal returns” sets in. If your family makes seventy-five thousand and your neighbor makes a hundred thousand, that extra twenty-five thousand a year means that your neighbor can drive a nicer car and go out to eat slightly more often. But it doesn’t make your neighbor happier than you, or better equipped to do the thousands of small and large things that make for being a good parent.” ~ Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
The Laws of Attraction (you draw to you what you think about) were at work when I listened to Malcolm discuss how happiness can increase when income increases, but only to a certain point. At that point any additional income is meaningless to your overall happiness and in fact can make matters more difficult for you. In the case of parenting the difficulty comes in having to explain to your children why we won't do something versus why we can't do something.
Can't is easy for both parties. The deliverer of the message simply cannot do what is requested and is not faced with having to make a decision at all. They only have to explain that it can't be done. The receiver just has to understand that can't is can't. Disappointing, but there is no bad guy.
Won't travels a much slipperier slope. Won't involves decision making and influence. The requested party must decide and then be able to defend the decision. It also requires the discipline necessary to stick to your guns. The requester must be open minded and able to accept no for an answer. Not so easy for young ears who want what they want when they want it.
I was confronted with this on Sunday night. We were shopping for school pants for my son. He has blown through the knees in all of his and while struggling to get him into anything but athletic wear my daughter asked for a pair of Converse. If we couldn't purchase the shoes I could have explained to her that we simply can't buy the shoes. It would have been honest and easily understood. Disappointing, but end of story. Instead, I was faced with having to explain to her why we won't buy the Converse. Not as easy to do and not as easily understood. In fact, I must have blown it because the Converse matter came up the next day.
How do you balance working parent guilt with not spoiling your children? Comment below.