Family Talk: The S&H Green Stamp deal
Back in “the old days,” my parents collected S&H Green Stamps. You would get these stamps when you made a purchase at participating gas stations or grocery stores. The more you bought, the more stamps you were given. You also would receive “books” into which you would lick and paste the stamps. Finally, after you collected enough books, you would go to the “S&H Green Stamp Redemption Center” where you could trade in your books of stamps for valuable prizes. The center was almost like a little department store, and there was no end of things a young boy would enjoy.My mom was a faithful collector, but she hated the taste of the glue on the back of the stamps. So, when I was a preteen, she made me a deal: If I would lick and paste the stamps in the books, I could have a share of them and redeem them for something I wanted at the redemption center. She didn’t have to offer twice! I made short work of the licking assignment, and it wasn’t long before I was perusing the center for a new transistor radio.At the time, my deal with mom was a big thing, because it meant I got a new radio. Unknown to me was a bigger lesson mom was teaching me. Partnership. Cooperation. Investing time and energy to receive a payoff. And trust.Mom trusted me to put the stamps in the books the right way. She trusted me to walk by myself downtown to the redemption center. She trusted me to spend those stamps wisely and to make my own choice. She didn’t hover over me, giving me instructions, second guessing my choices. She let me begin to be an adult.At the time, none of this was in my mind, nor, do I think, was it in my mom’s. But she was doing intuitively what all parents need to be doing: Training their kids for adulthood. To do this, parents must give up some control, grant their children some freedom and trust their kids' decisions. Looking back, I’m grateful for my mom’s S&H Green Stamp deal. It was a step on the road to adulthood.
Jim Priest can be reached at email@example.com.