Re: New on my site, Success, abundance, empathy
I wanted to add a few thoughts about my experience of abundance.
I'm currently at a large beautiful lake house in north Idaho, surrounded by piles of snow that keep growing. Its quite magical. My entire husband's family is here - all spouses and children. The 3 refrigerators are literally stuffed with food, the 20-foot tree is stocked with gifts, and the kids are reveling in the abundance all around us.
My husband grew up in a family that could afford anything they wanted and more. I've heard many stories about the Herculean efforts my mother-in-law made in acquiring the gifts her children requested when they were young. Without fail, these stories include (now, with lots of laughter) what a pain in the ass she thought it was. Often the perception was that her work was unappreciated.
There's an immense amount of generosity in this family. Sometimes there's resentment about the reactions to that generosity. My mother-in-law fed her family elaborate meals growing up. I almost said she loves to cook, but that's not true now, whether it ever was. Her role in the family is the person who plans and prepares meals. Regardless of the efforts of her children and us spouses to help her in the kitchen, she ends up taking over anyway. We still attempt to help where we can, but recognize her need to be in control. We all just finished eating a delicious breakfast casserole that is traditionally served around Christmas time. Part of the lore of this dish was the effort put into its construction - in fact my brother-in-law had nicknamed it "Christ on the cross casserole" when they were kids because of the feeling of sacrifice made clear by their mother. Many years ago my husband and I had jobs that prevented us from spending Christmas with his family, so his mother sent me the recipe for the casserole. I was dumbfounded by the simplicity and lack of actual effort required to make it.
My husband and his siblings all, at times, display self-centered, narcissistic, entitled behavior. I certainly can't point to definite cause and effect, but I can't help but think the attitude around giving, not the giving itself, influences these feelings and behaviors.
When our daughter was born, I told my husband I didn't want to do massive Christmases like the ones he grew up with. I didn't want our child to be "spoiled". My family was never wealthy (monetarily), and our Christmases were more measured in terms of stuff, though overflowing with joy and a sense of love and abundance. My parents would have gladly given more if they could have afforded it.
I'm so glad I found this list, which I've been reading for probably about 4 years - the majority of my daughter's life. My feelings about "spoiling" children have completely changed. We are fortunate enough that we can afford the things my daughter asks for, and so she gets them. Her aunts and uncles marvel at her generosity, noting how sweet and kind she is with her stuff, sometimes in stark contrast to their own children. Over these past few months, whenever she spoke of what she wanted from Santa, I wrote it down, then I got her everything she wanted plus a few things I wanted to give her because she really didn't ask for much. I look at the modest pile of wrapped presents and have a pang of "is that enough?" even though I know it will be, because she already has a sense of abundance in her world and doesn't need more stuff to prove it. The stuff is just a bonus!
Technically I'm not unschooling yet as my daughter wouldn't start kindergarten until next year, but the radical unschooling principles have done wonders for my family - my thought processes have morphed over these few years to allow me to be more patient, generous, peaceful, and loving with everyone I care about, most especially my wonderful daughter. She said to me recently after asking me if she could have or do something, "mama, you always say yes!" and then gave me a huge hug.
I wish everyone here a massively joyful and abundant holiday season and new year. Thank you to all who so generously share here.