Invest In Your Thoughts

What's odd with this picture?  The stairs never end.  Here's another erratic scene:

Child: “I need  ____.  Everyone has one.”  

Parent:  “Since when do your friends decide how I should spend my money?!”  

Who and how does one differentiate between needs and desires anyhow?   Sometimes, we parents are so distracted, we forget to consider the issue.  We just go with the flow.

Invest Your Attention

We spend our financial resources; we also invest with our minds. One’s attention is a precious resource; there are only 24 hours of it. No more, no less, no matter who. “Garbage in, garbage out,” my mother drilled into us kids. It’s a challenge today when so much trash looks very appealing!

Identify the Obvious Attention Wasters

Just as the way we spend our money reveals our values, so does our investment in thoughts. I had a revealing moment when I tracked how I used my time. (I used “Time is Right,” a free iPhone App.) Thinking I focused on relationships and mind-expansion, I was appalled to calculate the number of hours wasted in putzing around on the Internet, in the kitchen, and with video games. Yes, moi :(!

Expose the Subtle, Powerful Messages

More devious are the affirmations we ingest without even realizing it. Consider movies. Have you noticed that even the poorest families and those with toddlers have matching furniture that’s in good shape? Were (are) yours like that? Not mine. Here’s the subtle message: stylish furniture is our right, not a privilege nor a blessing nor a recompense for hard work.

How about the scenes where trim, fit people perpetually cuddle a wineglass? Ask many chic Parisians about their secrets to staying slim and you’ll hear, “Wine only on weekends.” Even sour wine is high in calories!

Get the Concept in Focus, Then Test It

If we go with the flow, here are some common ideas that get planted in our children’s minds... and tips to question them:

Subtle Message: Difficult = bad

Challenge it. Find out why some teachers are “mean.” One of our sons resented the professor’s high expectations; it impinged upon his gaming time (he mistakenly thought. Our boys may only play computer games two days/week no matter how much homework they have).

Subtle Message: Rich = normal

Check out economic geography (it’s an especially valuable activity around Thanksgiving time and before Christmas and the holidays).

This map shows which countries have money. Red is rich, blue is verrrrrryyyyy poor and green is poor.


This map shows where the people live. Lots and lots of people live in the countries in red. Ones in green have the fewest folk.

World map of wealth distribution
  World map of population distribution

(Click on the maps for larger images and more information.)

I found these images from Global Finance particular intriguing to discuss with older children. These depict the continents according to their wealth: plump US and Europe, emaciated Africa, etc.... Keep scrolling down to the last two maps—world population living on more than $200/day compared to those living on less than $2.00/day (Does Starbucks even sell anything for less than $2.00?) These facts help our children recognize their abundant blessings.

Subtle Message: Choices = I can make choices AND choose the consequences to each choice

Give them a reality check. They can choose to arrive on time or late for sports practice. If the coach has already chosen the starting team, will she change for Mlle. Strolling In or Mr. So Solicited?

Subtle Message: Sex = love or Love = sex and
Sex outside of marriage = exciting but Sex in marriage = dull

Chances are, the kids won’t be the ones to introduce the subject with you. If sexual morality means anything to you, bite the bullet and share your thoughts. Don't expect pre-teens or teens to respond (too c:):) l).

Movies have inspired me greatly, often for their bad example. Note the information that is not communicated. “That was one hot scene between the queen and her knight. Why did they cut the part where he’s beheaded and his blood impregnates her dress? Maybe, she ditched him when the going got tough.” Half information = full delusion.

Lead by Example

Mom and Dad never kiss? Maybe we are the ones proclaiming passionless love! Grab your spouse’s rear (in private) or dress (underneath) risqué. “Oh, no! I can’t do that!” Too difficult? Think again. We can choose how we act, but not the consequences to those choices.

:? ( It’s between :) and :( ...and means “Oh,oh. Perspective and corresponding behavior change on the horizon.”)

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