Experiences are what shape our children, particularly those we share with them. As my daughter Lyric is getting older, fewer and fewer ‘things’ make a big difference in who she is or who she is becoming. But I’m finding that our experiences, particularly those we share together, are the ones that stand out most to her. Science backs this, and so that’s why our family chooses experiences over gifts.
We live a pretty amazing life, and it took a long, long time for me to become a mother. I regularly walk a fine line of wanting to give my daughter everything I can possibly give her, since we’ve been given to so abundantly in this life, and wanting her to be thankful and not feel entitled.
When she was younger, maybe three-and-a-half, she found a penny in the road. She picked it up and was gleeful for a moment; “I found a money, Mama!”
She then tossed it and said, “But I only like dollars.”
Talk about an “OUCH” moment.
She was only three-years-old, so I couldn’t blame her for her blunt honesty. But I vowed then to work harder on giving her things that would make a difference in who she became in life and to not focus on giving her things that would only occupy her for short snapshots of her childhood.
Cornell University found that the ‘happiness’ that comes from material things, even the ‘it’ material things, is short-lived, while the joy of experiencing (and even purchasing the experience) is so much longer-valued. One of the reasons they came to that conclusion is the exclusivity of experience; experiences like vacations or museum trips or even an afternoon at the movies are uniquely ours–no two people experience the experience the same, so to speak. That exclusivity brings new meaning to the words, ‘Priceless,’ and we’ve been able to see the value of that in our own lives and family.
As summer comes to a close, I am leaning into the moments. Moments that make us who we are and allowing those to shape who we are as a family. In about 10 years I'm sure they will thank us for it!