Generosity begets generosity.

Someone on UnschoolingBasics who will be better off anonymous wrote:

See, I dont see myself as a controlling parent because I am teaching my kids that they cannot always have what they want. I dont feel that it is unreasonable to teach them these values. If we are out at a store and my son wants a toy and he just had a birthday or christmas or whatever the reason is, I am not going to buy him that toy just because he wants it. He will learn to be spoiled if he gets everytihng he wants. My son is a sensitive child too.. If I left him to do what he wanted, he would eat junk food and play video games all day long... I mean granted there are parents that say no to everything and are just NO kind of parents, but we dont say NO to our kids all the time, and when we do, they are taught to respect that answer. Is that a wrong way of thinking when it comes to unschooling
Sandra comments: Part of that has been transferred to the if I let him... page. Here are links to good information on saying yes and more on the idea of spoiled children.
A comment back to the list, from Alex Polikowsky:
WE are one of THOSE parents that give everything our kids ask for. Of course if we financially can at that moment. I have a very intense ds that will be five end of June and you know what??? We have given him so many presents, big presents, just because....and ALL the time.

It has not made him "spoiled." If we cannot give him something at that moment we talk about it and discuss what we can do. He will either choose to wait till we can or to get something that we can afford that minute. And that can be a small trinket that costs 50 cents when we are broke.

This past Christmas I kept asking what he wanted. Last Christmas he got so many presents. He said he wanted to get ME a Nintendo DS so we could play together. He did not want anything for himself but for his mom.

He will not learn to be spoiled if he gets everything he wants—no one gets every little thing they want. But he will learn that his parents will try to give him everything he wants—if possible. He will learn about family budget and money and economics and most of all he will learn the joy of giving something that makes a loved one smile.

Alex (the one with spoiled kids)


Karen James, February 2016. The topic was abundance:
When I was a young girl, my dad used to work in an ice cream factory. Every week he'd bring home two big brown paper bags filled with random ice cream made and boxed in the factory that week. Some I liked and some I didn't. But the thing I now remember more than which ice cream bars were in those bags, was how that bag was delivered to me. I can still see my dad, arms full, posture strong, face smiling, spirit excited to share something he could give and something he knew I loved. I looked forward to that every week. I could tell he looked forward to giving it to me too. The ice cream was free to him—one of the perks of his job.

Same thing happened when he'd bring me home a big stack of cardboard. If there were pieces of cardboard that were just going to be thrown out (and there were, often), he'd grab them and put them aside for me. He'd bring them home, carry them through the house like it was something precious, and deposit them in a special spot in his workshop reserved just for me and all the things I was making. I'd follow him. Again, it didn't cost him a thing, but that didn't affect the value of his gift. The value was the way he shared my excitement and relished the spirit of giving to me.

That manner in which my dad created a feeling of abundance in my life is one practice I've wanted to share with Ethan. My dad did so by the spirit in which he shared things he knew I'd love. Sometimes it was a stuffed animal. Sometimes it was a roll of leftover wallpaper. Sometimes it was a warm hand poking into the back seat of the car for me to grab hold of for a moment. It wasn't so much about the stuff. He didn't have much money left over to spend. It was about how he shared what he had to give. It was so sincerely generous, looking back now.

Doug and I can and do share more things that cost money with Ethan. We are fortunate to have more to share. Still, with almost every thing I do share with Ethan, I bring that same spirit of my dad's to the gift. I love giving Ethan things, whether that be games, or hugs, or an ear to listen. I love it so much. And I can see, especially now that Ethan is getting older, that he knows I love it, and it means a lot to him that I do. He's said many times that he feels like he has everything he needs. He does have a lot more things than I had as a child, but I really don't think that's what he means. His feeling of abundance comes from knowing we love sharing what we can with him—our time, attention and love included.

When you give, give as happily as you honestly can, and give with the receiver in mind more than yourself. That spirit shows, and is meaningful. The older your son gets, the more he'll see and understand and come to appreciate it, I believe.

Karen James
Original post on Always Learning

Karen Aye Angstadt wrote in November 2014:

We have been unschooling for about 4 years. And I have had lots of deschooling to do, especially around holiday expectations. One suggestion, that I was able to process about two years ago, was to NOT save up giving until the holidays. And, even on a budget, I have spent the past couple of years saying Yes to as many purchases as possible.

This past year a few things happened as a result. My oldest (after her 9th birthday) used her birthday money to buy toys to donate to a local Children's Home.

Several times over the past few months, she has been verbally expressing to me how fortunate she feels to have what she needs and wants. When we were cuddling one night, she talked about how she was so happy to be part of our family- that we listen and find her needs important. It makes her feel special.

As I plan for holiday gift-giving, I asked both kids what they wanted about two weeks ago. Neither could come up with an answer right away. They no longer have long lists of unfulfilled wants- and I feel more fulfilled because of that. (They have both since provided a few ideas.)

I was initially worried that giving "too much" would spoil them. It's what "everybody" says, except people here. But what I have found is that providing as much as I can, as soon as I can, has resulted in my kids being happier, more grateful and more generous. And I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your experiences so I could feel more confident taking steps along this path of radical unschooling. (original, on facebook)


From the Radical Unschooling Info group on facebook, September 2012: Lisa Klein Weber:
My son is sweet. very sweet and making adult decisions at 9 years old. We were at gamestop, trading in a game and thinking about putting the balance on a preorder that we already have money on, coming out in November. He saw another game he's been thinking he might like for a few days now and asked if we could put the money on that instead. I said sure.

We asked for the used copy. The guy behind the counter said that the used copy wouldn't allow him to play multiplayer and we should get the new one if he wanted to play multiplayer.

I said ok, I can pay the difference and the guy got it out and started the transaction. My son said "wait a minute! Mom, I think we should just put the money on the preorder like we were going to instead of spending that much money right now. I tried to talk him into just getting the game and we'd come up with the money when the other game came out but he said "no, I don't want it enough for you spend that much money on it right now."

Ok then. and do you know what I've done to get this kind of consideration? Bought him everything he's ever wanted that I could afford, the day he wanted it if I could. And if I couldn't, I told him why and we made a plan to get it eventually.


Note from Sandra: I remember being nine years old and very needy. My allowance was 35 cents (1962) and the answer was always "no." The story above is remarkable, right? It goes against common knowledge, right? Below are some of the responses that account received.


Alexandra Souza Lima Polikowsky

That is exactly how it has been working in my house!!!!!!! SO awesome isn't it!?

Caren Knox

As my kids get older - my oldest is 19 - I'm seeing more vividly the results of parenting choices, not just in them, but in their more conventionally parented peers, as well. Generosity begets generosity.

Jill Parmer

Same thing has happened here. I've helped my kids by going toward what they wanted, and been generous, and they've been the same toward me. Sweet. I like it when I'm trying to make a decision on something, and they asked the same things I've asked of them.

Schuyler Waynforth wrote elsewhere:

"One of the oft stated, but never guaranteed, discoveries with unschooling is that generosity begets generosity. While I've been writing an e-mail came in with this in the text: "The one thing that I can single out that has most helped my marriage is unschooling. ..."

Divorce (Prevention of, for Unschoolers)

From Radical Unschooling Info, July 2013:

Colleen Prieto:

My 10 year old has about $75 saved up from the weekly spending money we give him. A couple days ago, he told me he didn't want an allowance for a while, because there's nothing in particular he's saving up for. He said "I don't need to keep getting money just to have more - if there's something I want, then you can buy it for me, or you can allowance me again til I have enough."

My husband looked at him, looked at me, smiled, and said "this is another one of those side-effects of unschooling isn't it? He has enough, and he's happy. He's just HAPPY."

I said I think so, yes. A pretty cool side-effect of unschooling - knowing when you've had enough (food, cake, money, candy, TV, or anything else). And being happy.


From Always Learning, April 2011:

Schuyler Waynforth:

Linnaea and Simon, who have had their purchases supported to the best of David's income's ability, are both more likely to say no to an offer of something than yes. They make decisions based so much more on what they want then I did as an 11 year old or as a 14 year old. Actually, they've got me bested long into my adult years. They don't feel the need that I felt to have a treat. They both have money from their allowance that they haven't spent. I think saying yes to them when they were younger really set them up to see the value in both money and what they want.

Maybe that's unrelated, maybe saying yes to what they wanted in lots of their lives, yes to playing a game, yes to a bath, yes to going to the park, yes to swimming, yes to another book, yes to watching that movie, yes to that stuffed animal, yes to that sword, yes to bouncing on the trampoline with them, maybe all of those yesses lead to two children who don't feel needy enough to look for their happiness in lots of stuff. It isn't that they don't want stuff or buy stuff. They get video games, and Linnaea likes certain kinds of clothes from a specific store, but they are really discerning of what they want and how much it costs. Maybe that discernment comes from a lack of need.

You can look for more ways to fulfil her desire for stuffed animals, but don't look at her as though she is spoiled or too demanding or as though you are too soft. Give as generously as you can. I think it is a good thing to do.


Sandra Dodd:

That's happened here—my kids want to eat at home, rather than out. They LIKE what they already have and don't crave newness.

When I was little I didn't get things, and I was told no a lot, and I still get a thrill from spending money, eating out, getting something new. It's as though something in my broke, when I was little, and a switch is stuck that makes me want something, vaguely. My kids don't have that at all, none of them.

Keith said he wanted them to grow up undamaged, and this might be part of what "undamaged" looks like. They're realistic and not needy.


Glenda/wtexans:

It helps me to think in terms of, "I'm HAPPY to be able to do this for my son!", whether that be to buy the bazillionth Pokemon / stuffed animal / video game, or to snuggle with him if he's having a hard time falling asleep, or to help him find game faqs or walk-throughs when he's stuck, or to make a trip to the library to get a book we couldn't find at the bookstore, or . . . or . . . or . . .

As he's gotten older (he's 12 now), the need to have "everything" or "more" has decreased substantially. He, my husband, and I all receive a certain amount of "fun money" each month, and my son's invariably more thoughtful about how he spends his than I am. I tend to spend mine within a couple days, and, even though I'm more thoughtful about purchases than I used to be, I still have buyer's remorse more than I like. And my son's had buyer's remorse at times too, but at age 12 he is miles ahead than where I was well into my adulthood when it comes to money! I do think that has been impacted tremendously by him not growing up with a feeling of lack.


Jennifer/fairiedust66:

My son is 11 years old and he also does not ask for many things these days. He doesn't ask to eat out of the house, either, unless it's a special occasion like a birthday. When he was younger I said yes constantly and my budget could afford quite a lot (Hello, Thomas the Train collection plus stuffed animals). I did not implement allowance until Xander was about 7. Until then, he got pretty much all that he wanted. Some people told me that he would turn out spoiled and I got a lot of push back from my ex-husband's family.

Well, today at 11 years old Xan has told me that the best thing about holidays is the giving part. He donates his gently used items to charity and LOVES to think about others. He also loves to save his allowance and sees it as a goal to be attained (like getting all of the stars in a Mario game level). When he's saving for something large, I do chip in when I can. Our budget is vastly different now and he is very understanding. He also loves getting deals (I taught him about sales very early on) and he just loves saving money on an item. I really think that saying yes so much has helped Xander become the guy he is today.


Abundance Gratitude Joy—Rejecting a Pre-Packaged Life

Magical Thinking and Spoiled Children,
with the surprising stories of how our kids spent (and did not spend) money at Disneyland