Monday, August 11, 2008

My materialistic kids

My kids are always in need of some new toy or diversion. It is so out of control and it's usually at this time of year that I end up shutting it down for awhile. Honestly, how many Webkinz or tubes of lip gloss or Transformers or Lego sets are enough?

I think what happens is that during all the traveling in the summer, I get kind of lax about saying no and let them buy their cheezy souvenirs. Then they begin to feel entitled and expect these luxuries to continue freely flowing at every shopping opportunity. While in Ohio last week, I gave my kids a twenty to each purchase a beverage at Starbucks. Then, I indulged them a little more by letting them keep the change. When stopping on the drive back at a Bob Evans, I thought, I'll let them use their money any way they want and see if they make good decisions about what to do with it. They came back from the gift shop with their five hundredth stuffed animal and a three hundredth race car. Well, they failed that test!

My nephew recently told my children that all I teach them how to do is shop. Ouch! If that's what I'm teaching, then I'm not even doing that very well.

What I want to know is how to I turn things around. We have the disposable income to indulge them but that does not mean we should. I want my kids to realize how good they have it. The "starving kids in Africa" speech doesn't seem to hit home with them. Someone needs to start a "living frugal" camp where privileged kids can go to get a taste of doing without. They could serve them stew every night (maybe even skip a few meals as my kids have never truly experienced hunger), have one toy for every five kids, no T.V. or video games, and assign them work to help sustain everyone at the camp (like gather firewood, pick berries, fish, etc.).

We are going cold turkey from now until Christmas. I'm not buying them anything and I am making them put all their money in their college accounts. I will not break down - not even a piece of gum from a gum ball machine. I mean it!


Anonymous said...

How about having them volunteer with mom and/or dad at a shelter, food bank or soup kitchen to show them the other side of life?

Life Junkie said...

I should carve out some time for this! I did it once when an area nearby flooded and a lot of people needed meals delivered. Me and the kids helped make hot dog dinners and deliver them. The talked about it for a long time after that. My daughter also has a classmate who has it pretty rough who, for the past two years, has come over once a week after school and stays through dinner. My kids get little glimpses that way too. This scary thing is that I don't see any difference in materialistic behavior between my kids and my daughter's classmate. It seems like the need for more and more is never satisfied no matter how much a kid has....