Just this week I took the kids to visit Santa.
As my 3 older boys sat on his knee he of course asked, “And what do you WANT for Christmas?”. My boys seized the opportunity to rattle off their list of wants. As we exited we found ourselves in the toy section of the department store. I hoped they wouldn’t notice and made a bee line for the lifts but it was too late, “Mum, I WANT this for Christmas!” were their squeals as they saw display after display of merchandise. Once we managed to get out of there I noticed a difference in their demeanour. Initially they had been excited about seeing Santa but now they seemed wound-up and couldn’t seem to stop talking about all the amazing things they’d seen that they now wanted. They became completely focused on themselves and their WANTS. They had also become anxious, “Do you think Santa will bring it? Or can you just get it? What if he doesn’t get it? Can grandma get it for me?”.
I don’t take my children shopping very often. This is a once a year event for us so I won’t be too hard on them. But it never ceases to amaze me how much our culture teaches children to think of themselves first. It begins with that one question, “And what do you WANT for Christmas little boy?”.
Our children are growing up in a culture that grooms them for a life of consumerism. It is a culture that teaches them to place their value in what they have rather than who they are.
Kids today are bombarded with advertising messages that don’t just influence them to buy but influence how they think and feel about themselves and the world around them.
It is our role as parents to protect, teach and guide them through the maze of subtle and not-so-subtle influences, half-truths and stereotypes so that our children learn to live with their value systems and self-esteem intact.
This means being mindful about what sort of influences we allow in our homes through toys, merchandise, gadgets, the internet and television. This Christmas I’ve been posting about toys to avoid as I’ve spend time carefully considering whether I want the message that comes with certain toys or brands in my home.
So, my motto this year is “Consuming Less to enjoy Christmas more” because the LESS ‘stuff’ our kids have that consumes them then the MORE opportunities we have to play, laugh and share precious moments together.
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