Too Much Stuff?

Lost and Found
There was probably a time when Lost and Found was an appropriate name for the pile of clothing, lunchboxes, socks, water bottles, and other miscellaneous items sitting at the bottom of the stairs. As I travel up and down to the Community Room, my attention is often drawn to the growing pile, nice items (in some cases brand new) not reclaimed maybe not even missed by the owners. At semester’s end, the pile is very substantial. Perhaps a more realistic name would be: Lost and Forgotten.

This brings to mind my burnt orange mohair coat that I lost in 7th grade (burnt in my memory). I looked everywhere for it – I visited the Lost and Found every day before and after school. I prayed it would show up. I continually arrived home to hear, “Where is your coat?” I skirted the question a decent amount of times until I got the gumption to tell my parents I had lost my “new” coat. I was promptly told there wouldn’t be another new coat to replace it and I would have to make do until the next school year. It was a friendly exchange, no yelling, no lecture, no consternation on what to do, and no apology for the ensuing consequence. That was that. Ugh! This meant wearing something very old and worn that I had outgrown but was still in the closet, wearing one of my mom’s coats (never), or figuring out a system of staying warm for a few more months until warmer temperatures arrived. Honestly, I never really realized how necessary or how great a coat was until I lost it. It snowed 15” that night and my parents weren’t worried about me freezing to death the next day. I was grateful I hadn’t lost my boots.

Advantage or Adversity?
Was I disadvantaged? Absolutely not! In fact, the adversity served me well. A large part of parenting is providing children with the things they need to live a healthy, well-balanced, and happy life. Children cannot develop a healthy understanding of their physical, social and emotional needs when the parent’s need to anticipate and over provide comes first. Often it is our adult need to give our children so many options (thought of as advantage) that they don’t have time to develop a keen intrinsic awareness of their personal needs and preferences. In truth, when we have less to choose from the choices are clearer and readily internalized. When we have too many choices, the waters are muddied, and our choice is often insouciant. Too much stuff, too many choices becomes a de-motivator. Why care or feel responsible to any one thing when there are five others if that one disappears? Allowing adversity in all aspects children’s lives builds a strong foundation of resilience and tenacity. Most important, adversity provides clarity – from which we develop adaptability and competency. We learn our strengths which in turn builds confidence and ultimately capability, an “I can do this” disposition (the true advantage).

Something to keep in mind:

    • Advantage emerges from adversity.
    • Children need adversity to live a healthy, well-balanced, and happy life.
    • Less choices = advantage.


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