Dads and Moms definitely have different ways of doing things. This was brought to my attention when I asked my friend and colleague, Dave, if his boys were ready for school.
Dave told me that he took them to get their school supplies. I groaned, rolled my eyes and said how much I hated the dreaded supply list. He just shrugged and said that it really wasn’t a big deal. Not a big deal? Really?!? Shopping for school supplies for two boys, ages 12 and 13, not a big deal?
This is what he did. He took his sons to Target. Each of them had their supply list. He gave them explicit instructions. They were to get what was on their list and nothing else. Then they would meet him back in the concession area in the front of the store in a half hour.
I was flabbergasted. What? No hovering, double checking their choices and prices? Had he completely lost his mind?
After the boys chose their items, Dave reviewed their purchases. Anything not on the list wasn’t purchased. One of his sons had two binders on his list – a 2″ and a 1″. He opted for a 3″. Dave wasn’t going to fight that battle but did question his other son who wanted one of those super duper, organizer binder thingies that cost a bazillion bucks. That item stayed at Target.
In the end I learned a few valuable lessons:
- It’s important for kids to take ‘ownership’ or be responsible for themselves. Allowing his sons to choose their own supplies gives them ‘ownership’ of those items.
- Kids need to have opportunities to do their own comparison shopping. If given the choice and the freedom, it’s been my experience that most of them will make fiscally prudent decisions.
- Finally, kids need to be set up for success. Yeah, I knew that already but I definitely needed the reminder. Dave did a great job of making sure his sons would be successful – they had a list, a time frame and specific instructions. Working within those parameters – while still having the freedom to make their own choices – is a recipe for success.
Shopping for school supplies this way may not work for your family but what Dave did is a good reminder for all of us to look for opportunities to empower our kids.