How much is enough?

Published 9:10 am Saturday, February 4, 2012

Column: Maryanne Law, Families First

Question: How do we get the message to our children that “enough is enough?”

Answer: Thankfully, the most important things for children, which are nurturing and structure, do not depend on finances. How we save, how we spend and how we share, however, definitely communicates our values to our children.

Maryanne Law

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I suppose we all have family memories about money. I consider myself very fortunate: my parents were generous with me. However, my “receiving” was usually preceded by a discussion on “wants versus needs” or a lesson in options.

My mother, for instance, ushered me into the teen years of clothes buying by outlining two approaches to shopping. I had a limited amount of dollars. I could choose to purchase one more expensive brand name outfit and wear it more often, or I could choose to purchase less expensive clothes and have more variety.

My mom and I also had a close relationship with the “alteration lady.” Most of my outfits were let out at the seams so I could wear them another year. I also remember the boxes of gently worn clothes that came periodically from friends “out east” who had a little more money than we did and daughters a little older than myself.

It was my dad who always put quite a bit of time between my asking and my receiving. He was the one who also made sure than when I started earning my own money as a teenager that 10 percent of it went to the church and something went into the savings account.

The concept of “enough” isn’t only about money, of course. I like the story of the blessing “I love you and I wish you enough.” According to the family story, “I wish you enough” was said when one person wanted the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them. The entire blessing is as follows:

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

There is also my favorite fortune cookie proverb: “He who knows he has enough is rich.”

If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9528. Check out


Maryanne Law is the executive director of the Parenting Resource Center in Austin.