As parents, we naturally want more and better for our children then what we had, regardless of how great or bad our childhood was. We instinctively want to give them all we didn’t have and more. Perhaps it’s rooted in the things we feel we missed out on or the things we swore as parents we’d never do (or we would do). 

I’m no exception. I want to give my girls the world and for them to experience things I wasn’t able to. I want them to have more than I did, but not just material things. We’re a little better off than my parents were at this stage in the game, so it makes me that much more anxious to do things for them.

But here’s the thing—I love them enough to not.

Sounds crazy right? How can you say you love your kids enough to not? Well in my mind, it’s fairly simple. I absolutely want you to have the world, but I don’t want you to feel entitled to it. I think that that’s where we as a society have gone wrong. We’ve become so focused on giving our kids more than we had and being more than what our parents were that we’ve missed the mark—and have created kids who think they should have everything they want, when they want it.

So my sweet, beautiful girls, I love you enough to not.

I love you enough to not give you your way when you’ve thrown a fit because you want something. I love you enough to remove you from the situation and let you realize that there are better ways to get what we want than to scream, shout, and act a fool.

I love you enough to not fight your battles for you. In life, there will always be obstacles, some big, some small. As your mother, I do you a disservice if I can’t help you find ways to problem solve and overcome without me. Unfortunately, you won’t win every battle and it’ll hurt. But as your mom, I promise to help you find the lesson in the loss. You’ll have better character and life skills because you did it on your own.

I love you enough to not let you think you can do no wrong. Entitlement comes in many forms. The inability to accept responsibility and ownership of things is one of them. I’ll always be in your corner. I’ll always be there to support you. I’ll always be your biggest fan but I won’t give you the false perception that you’re always right.

I love you enough to not give you everything you want. It’s not because I can’t, but rather because we can’t always get what we want.

I want you to know the value of things. Sometimes, I feel like we’ve lost that in the mass quantity of things you have. I want you to know the value of not only what you want, but the satisfaction of working hard to have it. I don’t think you’re too young to start working for something you really want. You’ll value it more and have more pride in yourself for working hard for something than you ever would if we’d just handed it to you. So while we’ll give you some things, I love you enough to not give you everything.

I love you enough to not bail you out of bad situations. I love you enough to give you the opportunity to figure out how to make a situation right. I’ll guide you and be there for you if you need to work something out, but I’ll let you lead. You need to know that life will throw you some tough situations and, while I’ll always be there for you, I want you to have confidence in navigating tough seas on your own.

I love you enough to not spend $36,000 on food at your wedding (or really anywhere in that ballpark). I pray for your future constantly, including for your future husband. I know you’ll be an absolutely gorgeous bride, and I want your wedding to be everything you hoped for, but I won’t spend an absurd amount of money. I love you enough to recognize your future can benefit so much more if that money is directed to something long term. Realistically, you won’t remember the food. I want your memories of that day to be special and joyful in the fact that you were united with the man you get to love for the rest of your life. Ten years down the road, you’ll think that any large amount of money could have been spent on something much better for the two of you or the family you may choose to start.

I only want the best for you, my sweet girls. Over the years, you’ll be mad at me for all the things I love you enough to not let you do, but I also hope one day you’ll appreciate it, as well. Just know it’s because I love you more.

This post originally appeared on the author’s blog

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Holly Lemons

Blessed by God to be the mommy to four beautiful girls, wife to one amazing husband, and an elected official. Crazy, a little...blessed beyond what I deserve!