Recently overheard in my house when Max had a friend over, “Our cat was free. You should tell your Mom to get one too.”
Hahahahaha. So, I tell my wayward son later that day when his friend had left – there’s no such thing as a free cat. I gave him the Coles notes version of the expenses we’ve had to put out for Shadow, vet care, spaying, food, toys, carrier, dishes, brush etc. None of those things are free, even though we didn’t pay to buy Shadow from the kindly farmer who had too many kittens. I felt it important to address this misconception with Max, so that he understands the value of and cost of a pet.
Trying to teach kids to value anything is a long term lesson that must be repeated over and over, like a broken record. Especially when we hear a child unknowingly demonstrating that they don’t understand the value of something, we can gently correct them. Value is definitely not always monetary but also translates to respect for something, which is a super important lesson to learn consistently. I started this very young with the boys when they were toddlers, I bought some pretty but very inexpensive decorations for the coffee table from the dollar store and would tell them, those are Mommy’s, you don’t touch, you can look, aren’t they pretty? This started them on the road to understanding that you aren’t reckless with other people’s items. I’ve also been very careful that they don’t lend out items unless they’re close friends and explain the possible consequences of doing so, the same with borrowing. School and public library books are another great teaching tool to show your kids how to respect other’s property. Then, this leads to the lesson of caring for their own property. Teach them how to clean their own items, help them find a place to put them away and explain to them the cost of replacement if items aren’t cared for. Consistently reminding your child and yourself of your many blessings is important too.
Like I said, this is a process and a work in progress, but continue to keep the conversation open and it will pay off eventually.