Gym Shoes: logo with tag Imagine More

Gym Shoes

by Linda Jenkinson

For several years, the actor John Houseman did a TV spot for the investment firm, Smith-Barney. The tag-line was, “We made our money the old-fashioned way. We earned it.” I was never a Smith-Barney client, but I always felt good about that commercial. It told me I was on the right track.

Like most parents, as my children grew up, I wanted to give them the world on a string. For most of us, our desires far exceed our capacity to fulfill them. I wonder if that sends the wrong message. The best gift we can give our children is to prepare them to solve life’s problems.

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We’ve all heard the child melting down in the department store, demanding candy, a toy, or other treat. Parents often give in to spare themselves the embarrassment of a tantrum. Instead, why not ask the child what they will do to earn their treat? Teach them that rewards come through effort, not through demands.

My fifteen-year-old daughter wanted an expensive pair of gym shoes. Budget-busters, with a price tag equal to a day’s pay. The new shoes I had purchased didn’t measure up to her friends’ expectations. We argued; price over peer-pressure.

While I wanted her to be well-heeled, I still had to clothe the rest of her. I got her point. I knew kids could be miserable to each other, and if our family had been as well-heeled as she hoped to be, I would have filled her closet with those budget-busters. But we weren’t. I had to put my foot down.

“I don’t intend to spend eight hours on my feet to put shoes on yours for one hour a day. The shoes you want cost twice as much as the ones I bought. If you want them that much, you need to come up with half of the price. I’ll pay the other half.”

There! I thought that would end it. But my daughter fooled me. She went out and found her first job. I was filled with pride at her initiative. We bought the shoes, and she paid half. I think the experience taught us both a lesson. She, pride of achieving a goal. Me, not to underestimate her gumption.

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