Thursday, June 11, 2015

Consumerism with kids




So I have never been a big consumer. I grew up in a working class family ad we did not get stuff. At all. We got school clothes every September, went to the dentist, ate everyday, and got a couple of Christmas presents. No windfalls, where we got showered with treats, coupled with going hungry, just consistently getting by with minimum acquisitions. As a teen, I wore my working class status as a badge of honor on the punk scene, but occasionally envied some of my anarchist companions with their cool stuff that i could not afford.

It was not until I prospered in the black market that I had cash to throw around and throw it around I did. After so much deprivation, I spent a fortune on cabs and restaurants, lots of glamorous products and records and new dresses at Patricia Fields and Betsy Johnson’s on a regular basis. Oh, and shoes, including one pair of Vivienne Westwood hand made shoes. I blew through tens of thousands and had nothing to show in the end of that run. It was fun while it lasted but not sustainable or practical. 

Later I settled back into a low key economic philosophy, this time by choice, not necessity, putting my money where my mouth is and supporting mom and pop businesses and avoiding giving money to the corporations as much as possible. Recently I spend my money on good food, great childcare and the creation of a family, adoption, fertility, etc, but not really on stuff. I am not crazy about having a lot of stuff in the house.

Now I have a child who wants stuff. She has friends who get a lot of stuff, every cool toy and outfit and branded merch, as well as outings to the big ticket places. Urg. I am not sure how to navigate this. My first reaction is that she does not need any of that consumery crap, but then I do not want her to be the kid who longs and does not get. After much asking and tabling we bought her her first American Girl Doll. She is head over hells, which is sweet, but I am not in this game to be liked or to give her “stuff” to make her happy. I am in it to raise a kind sensitive savvy human being. I hope I can find the balance of to have and have not and find some success in my goals. 

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