It's not what you have, it's who you are. I tell my kids this all the time. I also tell them, there's no shame in having and enjoying nice things, we simply don't judge people by their possessions. Someone may have a larger home with more "stuff" to play with - that doesn't translate to good or bad, just a person with more stuff. Then we review the opposite example... Someone may have a smaller home with less "stuff" to play with - again, not good or bad, just a person with less stuff. It's who a person is that's important. I think our two oldest boys get it.
Cheri at Blog This Mom included a wonderful link in her recent blog post. It's a clip that's making the rounds so many of you may have seen it. If not, it's worth the four minutes. Conan O'Brien is interviewing the comedian Louis C.K., and Louis riffs about how AMAZING life is and how spoiled we are. It's funny and true. YouTube embedding has been disabled for the clip, but click on the link and watch it - "Everything's amazing, nobody's happy..."
Chris and I continually struggle with how much is too much with our kids. Our boys are far from spoiled, but also have plenty to play with, and have rarely been denied a requested "special" gift for a birthday or holiday. We've made it clear what the boundaries are so they don't ask for things they know aren't kosher in our home. They don't seem bothered and haven't complained about desperately wanting something that we don't believe is appropriate. I can honestly say, I don't think our boys are "bummed" that they don't have game systems [other than Wii], cell phones, or computers in their rooms with Internet access. Oldest Boy , Middle Boy , and Toddler Child  seem content to play board games, build things with Lego's, watch some television, and play approved games on the family computer. When they're outside, they play. I mean, they really play. They look for sticks and rocks and bugs. They build forts in the bushes, ride bikes and run to nowhere.
The goal isn't to raise our kids to be so counterculture that other kids view them as socially off. But my fear is... that it's happening. Chris and I have discussed this and are united in our opinion that it's not worth it to join the mainstream on some of our issues. We just can't.
I confess, sometimes I want to. It's about me though, not the kids.
I spoke with a friend last week and reminded her how much we'd love to have she, her husband and kids over for dinner. I knew as adults we'd visit and eat and drink and laugh... but, I impulsively said, "Will your kids be okay playing with our kids? We don't have a big screen TV with a game system in the basement, or lots of cool play equipment in the backyard. We have rocks and sticks."
She was very gracious and said, "Heck yeah! They'll have a blast!"
After thinking about how concerned I felt for our boys and the possible social judgment they might endure based on what "stuff" they did or did not have, I realized that when I tell my kids, It's not what you have, it's who you are, I need to remind myself... it's the truth.