consumerism: a preoccupation with and an inclination toward the buying of consumer goods
Earlier this summer I posted about consumerism, and how it has become an addiction for so many of us. Lately, I have really become aware of a more specific problem: consumerism targeted at our children. We all know how many different toys, tv show characters, and video games are focused on luring in our children.
Growing up, I remember when you actually had to seek out toys. Other than specific toy stores, one could get their regular shopping done without a bombardment of toys in every store. If my parents wanted to buy us a “little something” it was usually either a yummy treat or a little bouncy ball. We didn’t have whole sections full of toys at our normally frequented stores.
Times sure have changed. The other day our whole family went into Target to get a few essentials. One of our kiddos had a little money he had gotten from his birthday, and asked if we could walk over to the toy section. “Sure… what harm will that do?”
Let me just say that it was awful! Every aisle had toys that seemed to be perfectly catered toward our different aged children. The two year old fell in love with a series of toys that looked enormously appealing, the five year old found a giant stuffed animal of a lion (her newest, passionate interest), my boys found an assortment of fun, older kid toys, and let’s not mention what I found that I wanted. (Ok, so I almost caved and bought this wonderful looking organizer. I have been wanting to redo my homemaker binders, and this just looked so easy, instead of having to print up and make my own! Now, I’m glad I didn’t because I’m really enjoying designing mine own.)
Well, by the grace of God, we actually made it out of the store without buying anything that wasn’t on the list, but it really was quite hard on everyone. After our little excursion, everyone was exhausted. At the dinner table that night we all talked about what we had wanted, and how it felt to have to leave it at the store. Of course the two year old did not have much to say on the subject, but everyone else understood that we really didn’t need any of that stuff. Yes it’s fun to get new things, but if it means you have to get rid of something to make room for it, it doesn’t seem near as appealing. Ironically enough, after leaving the store everyone was relieved, and many didn’t even want those exciting things anymore.
So here is what I was thinking about. I know that it is hard for me to not “buy into” consumerism and just get everything I desire, so how much harder is it for my young children? I fully understand why I should not spend unnecessarily, both financially and Biblically, but here are my kiddos, still immature and trying to figure out life, and what do I do but throw them into a small “world” of exciting, appealing toys and games.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5
This isn’t just a matter of telling my children “no” to the toys they want, but rather helping to reduce the constant barrage of temptations. God is clear that we should flee from temptation.
“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” 1 Timothy 6:11
Now obviously, the moment we turn on a movie or walk into a store, our children are going to have to deal with the fact that there are tons of alluring things that they can’t have. And really, teaching them they can’t have all their material desires is a very good thing, but at some point it becomes mean to taunt them with all these wonderful looking toys.
What should we do to help our kiddos not be caught by consumerism?
- Repeatedly perusing up and down the toy aisle, with no goal in sight, is not helpful.
- Limit, or eliminate, tv shows. Commercials make every toy look like the answer to a lifetime of no boredom.
- Set a good example. If you frivolously spend, so will your children.
- Do fun activities with your little ones. If your teach your children to enjoy having fun by playing with educational toys, they won’t feel the need to get every action figure available.- I wrote a post on this, you can check out here.
- Homeschooling your children keeps them out of the main stream of trendy toys and gadgets.
- Be aware of the temptation. Noticing all the times your little ones are subjected to excessive temptations will help you to help them.
- Skip video games. Let’s face it, their addictive, contribute to unhealthy mental and physical ailments, and expensive. Besides, there’s always a new and improved game or accessory.
I know that our children need to learn not to buy into consumerism, and the sooner I instill this in them, the better it will be for them.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6