How long can you go without buying anything for your child?
Am I the only one who thinks the backlash against consumerist kids has jumped the shark? I get it: kids do not need one million and one toys to be happy! But now we have a mom who is going on record to say that she will not buy her son a single thing in 2013.
No new toys. No new clothes. Not even a haircut!
Thrifty mama Hattie Garlick is going to require her boy make do with hand-me-downs, and he'll only get to eat what Mom and Dad are eating. Oh, and no costly experiences for this kiddo. No sirree bob, he's going to have everything done at home in "activities concocted at home instead of at soft-play centres."
Ah yes, because anything purchased or done outside of the home is obviously part and parcel of being a sheep herded along the consumerist path. Buy a kid a toy, and you're turning them into a materialist! It couldn't be, perhaps, that those of us who spend for our kids want to foster their specific interests and likes, to let them know that although they are small, they too are special.
Ironically, Garlick tells of how this grand plan to cut out "kiddy consumerism" came to be: she bought her son a water pistol which he happened to love.
The toy gun was simple and cheap. But still, it was purchased, wasn't it? And yet, under Garlick's new plan, she won't be able to give her son such a simple joy.
I look around my daughter's playroom, and I too want to throw up my hands at the sheer gluttony. She doesn't need all those LEGOs or My Little Ponys! I'm forever giving my husband the evil eye for indulging her with little gifts. And I'll even admit to a secret relief when the puppy has destroyed this or that because it's one less "thing" we need to hold onto.
There I agree with Garlick. Kids don't need so much stuff!
Where I don't agree is in the decision to cut back on that "stuff" to the point where kids are being sent a message not about the evils of consumerism -- which you'll have to admit is pretty vague and nebulous and way over a kid's head -- but that their likes, dislikes, interests are not as important as their parents.
We show our kids love by letting them know that they count. And while I wouldn't suggest "buying" a kid's love per se, buying them things is certainly a form of love -- it shows a child that we care enough to let them explore their own loves and desires.
Kids don't need a million toys. But there's nothing wrong with a few select toys that they really enjoy, no reason they shouldn't get to pick out a few books that they can read over and over and over again instead of bidding them bye bye on library return day. Presents purchased are presents they can return to.
In that playroom are things that my daughter adores, that she plays with, that she treasures. And in the way that I expect her to respect "my things," I have to respect hers too. There are the art supplies that bring out her creativity and the stuffed animals that she cuddles close at night. There are the books she pages through night after night.
It's just stuff. But it's HER stuff, and she deserves it ... just as much as I deserve that new pair of shoes.
Would you go on a buying strike like this mom or are you content shelling out for your kid?