Loving A Kid Well Doesn't Cost Money

Jocelyn and her husband are adopting Jocelyn's nephew this summer. They're working Baby Step 2, and Jocelyn wants to know if they should slow down their Baby Steps to do more family activities.

QUESTION: Jocelyn in San Antonio and her husband are adopting Jocelyn’s nephew this summer. They’re working Baby Step 2, and Jocelyn wants to know if they should slow down their Baby Steps to do more family things since her nephew is a teenager. Dave says no.

ANSWER: Hugs are free. You making cookies costs almost nothing. You sitting and looking teenagers in the eyes and talking with them and having meaningful conversations with them doesn’t cost a thing. That’s what’s called a teenage-friendly environment. I had one at my house. Teenagers did not hang out at our house because we had toys to play with. At the lake, that wouldn’t be true. They did hang out there for the toys. Truthfully, this does not cost money. To love this kid well does not cost money. Don’t use this as rationalization, and don’t fall into the American trap of, “This kid’s going to be happy if I can get him a Wii.” Don’t fall for that. That isn’t what he needs. Because of the mess he’s coming out of, he desperately yearns for somebody to put their arms around him and hug him and tell him he’s a good man and teach him how to be a good man. Walk with him.

No, I would not spend a bunch of money to prove you love him. I really wouldn’t. I think that’s a bad philosophy of life in general. It comes from a sweet, noble thing on your heart, and I appreciate your wanting to do that, but it’s not necessary. Spending money to love kids well is a misnomer. You love them well first, and then if you’ve got some money and want to spend it, that’s okay, too. In your case, you’re trying to clean up a mess. You need to clean up the mess. You’ve already done amazing things for this guy. You’re incredible people.

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