DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm worried about my daughter. Most of her friends went out of town or even out of the country for spring break while we stayed home. We had a nice time together as a family, with my husband and I taking one of the two school weeks off to hang with her. The other week she had play dates with various friends. But I remember last year when the kids got back to school and were recounting stories of their adventures, my daughter was kind of sad because she didn't have a big trip. How can I help her feel good about what we did together? I want to prepare her so that she feels confident and happy when she sees her friends again. -- Protective Mom, Los Angeles
DEAR PROTECTIVE MOM: Keeping up with the Joneses has always been dangerous and continues to be today. Maybe that's why it's even mentioned in the Bible with the notion of not lusting over someone else or their things. Yet is it incredibly hard to master. Naturally, we notice what others do and often envy their experiences or possessions.
It is up to the parents to model appropriate behavior in these situations. As far as spring break activities go, review with your daughter what her experiences were. Talk about the highlights so that she can remember for herself where she found joy. Help her to recall special experiences that she can treasure in the future. Also, encourage her to listen to the other children's stories and enjoy them for what they are. She can soak in the full measure of what they share and be happy that they had the experience and that they chose to relay it to the class without feeling bad because she didn't do the same thing.
This is an ongoing responsibility for you, especially if your child goes to school with children who have deeper pockets than your family. It is essential for your child to feel confident and valued, regardless of how much money or stuff you do or do not have.