Deposit This: 5 Tips, Ideas, and Images for Your Brain Bank

While Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article Why Women Still Can’t Have It All was heating up the telecom lines this week, another article — about why American kids are so spoiled — was also causing a hullabaloo.

Planting Morning Glory seeds with Luke with our moonflowers along the fence

Spoiled Rotten |  The New Yorker

…Contemporary American kids may represent the most indulged young people in the history of the world. It’s not just that they’ve been given unprecedented amounts of stuff—clothes, toys, cameras, skis, computers, televisions, cell phones, PlayStations, iPods. … They’ve also been granted unprecedented authority.

“Parents want their kids’ approval, a reversal of the past ideal of children striving for their parents’ approval,” Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, both professors of psychology, have written. … This is a social experiment on a grand scale, and a growing number of adults fear that it isn’t working out so well: according to one poll, commissioned by Time and CNN, two-thirds of American parents think that their children are spoiled.

My friend Karen asked what I thought of this article, and I am working on a response.  It has to do with the fact that expecting your kids to help out, or not giving them everything they want, doesn’t come naturally.

Even though I expect a whole lot from my kids, who don’t have a whole lot of material things, what led us there was an almost accidental combination of budget constraints, a larger family, and our old-fashioned values.  More on this from me soon, but in the meantime, what do you think?

Having it all, part 1:  In defense of an ordinary life  |  The Happiest Mom

If you’re still wanting to mine the complicated issues in Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, Meagan Francis works her magic again and helps defuse the frenzy, as well as giving us new meaty questions to chew on:

But I wonder, when we’re talking about success and how to juggle work and life, if we are missing the larger question: what is success, and who gets to define it?  Are we interested in climbing that ladder because we really want what’s at the top?  Or do we just think we should want it, or believe others expect us to get there?

being OK with things as they are  |  mnmlist

I love how Leo Babauta (of Zen Habits fame), the author of this truly minimalist blog, reminds us of our constant striving.  How striving to improve things or change our lives keeps us running out of breath, keeps us spending money, keeps us adding more appointments to our calendars, keeps our houses cluttered with things.

He asks, “For each thing you think needs change, try sitting for a minute and see if you can simply accept each one, as they are right now.”

How to Save Money on Travel  |  Go Gingham

Sara Tetreault, a fellow frugal blogger at Go Gingham, has written a virtual compendium of tips on how to keep costs down on this somewhat costly pastime.  Sara, who is currently house-swapping and camping around Spain with her family, is an expert on budget travel and finding the fun in spending less.

Master the Ten-Second Rule  |  The Simple Dollar

I love systems and strategies that help keep me on track, so I was happy to find this neat little rule at The Simple Dollar blog.

When we can easily afford something, it can be really hard to convince ourselves not to buy that thing. But if we keep tossing more stuff into our cart, our credit cards bloat up and our houses become busy, overwhelming places.

Most food cravings pass in three minutes or less.  The desire to buy something can also be overcome if we just delay, distract, or in this case, discuss — in our own head.  Here’s how Simple Dollar founder Trent Hamm does it:

Whenever I’m considering making a purchase of any kind, I simply stop for ten seconds and ask myself whether this is really a worthwhile purchase. Do I actually need this item? Does it cause any sort of fulfillment in my life that isn’t already achieved by the things I currently own? Could I not put the cost of this item to better use?

What we’re up to:  My summer of organizing and spending time with my kids is chugging along nicely. I’ve reorganized the linen closet, two drawers of the girls’ craft cabinet, my business papers, and our home/garden/renovation papers. It’s hard to tear myself away from my work sometimes, but I always feel better after whipping a mess into shape.

At nights, my daughters and I can be found massaging each other’s feet with soothing cream and having long chats. Friday night Sofia and I stayed up late watching a terrible and beautiful thunderstorm, and this Saturday we managed to find a gas station with power, and a route out of town without downed trees, to spend the weekend with my parents and my sister and her husband at a state park in Maryland.

We waded in the water, canoed around the lake, and even roasted marshmallows over a bonfire. Quiet rural settings, I read recently, make our brains both calmer and sharper. I like that.

I hope your summer is off to a good start, too.

This post is sponsored by:

Share this post:


  • Jen @ Jen Spends July 1, 2012, 3:31 pm

    I definitely think that we have a lot of spoiled children and poor parenting in the US, but I don’t believe it’s a uniquely American problem at all. I was rather shocked by the poor parenting I witnessed in the UK, for example (I had heard that they were amazing with kids over there). This attitude that “kids will be kids” and adults should indulge their every whim drives me batty. Kids desperately need structure, limits and adult guidance if they’re going to learn to take care of themselves independently and confidently someday. I see a lot of parents who 1) let their kids call the shots from a very young age, and 2) live vicariously through their kids, trying to fulfill some vision of a fun childhood that THEY have rather than paying attention to their children’s unique needs. It’s a recipe for disaster. I am by no means a perfect parent, but I try to take a step back often to ensure I’m not making those mistakes, especially since my son is an only child so far.

    p.s. I’m glad to hear you made it through the storms safely–I was thinking about your family when I heard!

    • Amy July 1, 2012, 3:38 pm

      Hi Jen,

      I’m secretly relieved that we Americans are not the only ones who are over-indulging our kids. But I so agree that kids need limits and structure just as much as they need love and security.

      Thanks for thinking of me and the storm! We narrowly escaped a tree falling on our power lines, but the neighborhood was hit badly and even my parents in Ohio have no power from the same storm.

      Take care, Jen,