From an article titled Give the Gift of Poverty: A Parental Strategy for Teaching Life Lessons:

We only have a few short years to equip our children to survive. We see to their education and their health and strive for their happiness. But consider this: Just as you know it is far better to systematically put money in the bank for their college, rather than giving them money for candy, so too is it better to help them develop the moral muscles necessary to face the adult world than giving them momentary happiness.

Before anyone replaces the pool house with an outhouse for fear of turning their child into an OWS ingrate let me offer a few suggestions.

-Find or create opportunities for earning money. The chance to buy a desired item will put the wish in an entirely new light. Oftentimes what a child will pine for mom or dad to buy will lose all its luster once they discover they can have it by dipping into their own pocket.

-Give children the opportunity to serve with no expectations of gain. Churches are a good place to start, but just being aware of needs in your own neighborhood can open a lot of opportunities. Raking leaves for the neighbor, cleaning a gutter for an elderly person, or volunteering at a veteran or children’s hospital.

-Resist the urge to rescue your child from small failures. We learn more from our failures than our triumphs.

In spite of what the media would have us believe, the vast majority of Americans are not living in Hooverville. Nor are our children born into a class from which they can never rise. The American dream for my grandfather wasn’t a “dream” at all. It was a vision. Parents who have never had a formal education have dreamed of college for their own offspring and then painted a vision in their children’s minds of a future better than their own.

That is the American dream. We don’t have to demand that someone else must give us our “fair” share. We have been endowed by our Creator with the ability to imagine a better life and then create it out of the dust in our garage. It is our heritage to do so.

In spite of all their poverty, the generations before us kept their dreams alive.

This Christmas season, I invite you to join me in reevaluating the gifts we give to our children and grandchildren by asking, “What will this gift create in him? Will it be a tool for future prosperity? Will it ignite his imagination?”

“Or will it caress my parental ego?”

Every generation will be pressed by hardship at one moment or another. By using a little selective deprivation while they are young we can give the next generation the gift of fortitude.

Perhaps then, we will once again see a generation eager to build their lives, rather than stand with a sign demanding one.

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