Keep Calm and Carry On – Delaying Gratification

Our fifteen year old son is building a gaming computer.  I am immensely proud of him but not for the reasons you may think.

You see, like other millennials he has a desperate (and often loud) need for instant gratification, so when he told the Mr and I that for his birthday he wanted to build his own gaming computer we realized here (at last) was our opportunity to teach him about the benefits of having a strong work ethic and of delaying gratification.

If you are the parent of a teenager you will understand how difficult it is for them to appreciate delaying gratification for any reason.  Their friends can be reached instantly via text or on Facebook and should they need to know if there are yaks in South America they’re a Google second away from having the answer.    Furthermore if they require feedback on anything like a new haircut or a pair of trainers they ask about it on Snapchat or Instagram.  

So imagine how he reacted when we said ‘Yeah sure bud we’ll get you the parts but a) you’ll have to work for it and b) you only get a maximum of four parts a month until you have all the necessary components”.

Well.  That, went down like this:

“I’m not sure I heard you.  Wanna text me what you just said?”

‘You heard us.”

“Did you say I would have to build my computer over several MONTHS?”


“I could be dead by then.”

Mr and I blinked in unison.

“Technology evolves at such a rapid pace I could be building a dinosaur computer.”

Mr and I blinked again.

“But the game I want to play on my new computer comes out next week!”

I got up to make cups of chamomile tea.

“There’s a law somewhere against doing this to children in Canada!  I know there is! I’ll google it! This is torture.”

When he calmed down to a hissing fit we explained our logic to him.  There are no free handouts in life.  You get what you work for and you have to learn to put things away (like money)and forget about it.  

When the first batch of parts arrived he was happy for 48 hrs and then he reverted to all kinds of shenanigans. He threatened to go on a hunger strike just before I decided to bake blueberry muffins.  He ate six of the twelve muffins.  He refused to clean up his room until I showed him that there was a massive sale on keyboards (50% off!) and that his laziness was costing us money.  He staged a silent protest beside the garbage bin on garbage collection day until I reminded him a black bear was spotted in our street earlier that week and well, if he wanted to deal with that problem while I was at work he was welcome to it.   

Maybe it is a generational thing.  I don’t know.  I have never had trouble delaying gratification.  In fact I get immense pleasure from saving for something I want or buying something small like a chocolate bar and hiding it away for a ‘rainy day’. 

Do you suffer from a need for instant gratification?

Since then our son has come a long way.  How do I know?  Well yesterday at the store he picked out a mousepad that reads: 

Keep Calm And Carry On

Trust me he would have never picked that one three months ago.







18 thoughts on “Keep Calm and Carry On – Delaying Gratification

  1. Great post Yolanda, I can just sense his frustration through your words 🙂 I often thing anticipation is just as good as the experience itself, so it’s part of the fun to wait. But, in some ways, I think all of us are moving more towards that instant gratification – finding information is a good example, once I would have gone to the library to look something up, now I don’t have to – I can find out almost instantly.

    • Thanks Andrea 🙂 Yes I would have to agree with you anticipation is as good as the experience. Also I have trained myself over the years not to attach expectations to anything. That is another lesson I hope to pass on to my sons. I do love the times we’re living in but when it comes to doing research for my books I inevitably end up in the library.

  2. I agree with Kate, the anticipation of things typically turns out to be better than the real thing. Unfortunately I know many people who must have instant gratification…I feel sorry for them. As far as the younger generation, I don’t think they know otherwise, but I’m glad to see your son is learning. Great mousepad selection!

    • It’s quite a complicated issue because what’s happening with this generation is they’re not actively seeking to improve themselves through work and experience. They feel validated for example and assured by the number of ‘likes’ on their FB page or in my youngest son’s case the number of ‘friend’ gamers so no need for self-betterment! Parenting has never been easy but we’re certainly living in interesting times 😀

  3. I agree with Jenny. The reason a lot (okay, all) of my daughter’s friends were “spoiled” was due to their parents’ bad habit of fulfilling every wish. My daughter is almost 19. She is an Indigo Kid, I think. One of the last. She is not a Millennium. (As you mentioned) But she was and is….very high maintenance. We made her buy her own computer out of her own money she earned at a summer job. Much drama over that. However, she loves the computer and treats it better than if we had paid for it. You are doing a great job. Lucky you, tantrums and all-15 is a hard age- for having your child still at home, Yolanda!

  4. I was always a give-it-to-me-now person. Thought it was an East Coast upbringing. Maybe just a brat. After starting on the Internet in the days of reading a book while waiting for a page to load – I pretty much want it now.

    • I doubt you were a brat Lynn 😀 I do love the fact that we have instant access now to books and information – certainly our lives have been made easier but perhaps not necessarily simpler? Interesting time to be raising kids that’s for sure.

  5. I’m like you, Yolanda, which I’ve always called patience, but I know a lot of people my age who don’t have it. I think it’s part generational, but also personality.

  6. I generally save up for things. The excitement when you get them, is amazing. I’m not sure if instant gratification brings the same joy, especially when it’s something you really need. I didn’t have a computer or TV when I was a kid, and had part-time jobs while at school to save up for things like a stereo, guitars a old car and computer. These things were all necessary for work. Though the guitars were later stolen, the car and stereo are long gone, and the computer no longer works. I’m glad I saved for them, though I wish things lasted longer, but most of all I wish I still had those original guitars. They were the best I’ve owned.

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