If you go into any child’s room today you will find it hoarded with toys. Parents buy
their children too many toys for a number of reasons:
- Guilt, as parents feel guilty for not spending time or giving needed attention to their children.
- Advertisers take advantage of parental guilt as a source for sales.
- Competitiveness and keeping up with the Joneses. Parents will buy any toy for their children
because “all other kids have it. How can I not buy it for my kid? He might feel
isolated of the other kids”.
- Perfectionism and unrealistic expectations. Some parents think they can have it all, and that
they can give everything to their children.
Psychologists believe that too many toys does not allow for the full development of children’s imagination. They prohibit the full exploration of a toy, and causes children to be superficial.
But before parents control buying toys for their kids, they need to control their own consumption. Think, how many things you
buy that you do not need? How many shirts you have? Pairs of shoes? Cars?
Parents are caught in a vicious circle of work-buy-work-buy encouraged by advertisements that transfers any want to a need. In industrial countries like USA and Canada, the government encourages this cycle for more income and sales tax.
Parents find it extremely hard to stop their consumer habits, not only because media set new values and create needs, but
also because of a psychological need to impress others with symbols of higher social class.
Consumerism and material possessions divert the individual from the true meaning of happiness and the value of relationships, and keeps people further from achieving self actualization. Brand names do not have a value in themselves, but they are social signals that some people use to identify themselves and find like-minded people. Many parents use their children as status symbols by
dressing them in brand clothing and enrolling them in ‘classy’ activities like music and foreign languages. Adult children of such parents grow up feeling entitled to what they have and do not develop readiness for hard work.
Consumer mentality makes us feel insecure with low self worth, even the most affluent of us. The more we have, the more we
need. We find that excessive seeking-wealth nations suffer of higher rates of mental disorders. They deal with artificial needs and place high value on money, possessions, looks and fame instead of connecting and sustaining meaningful relationships.
To avoid the trap of consumerism we need to know who we are, what we value and what creative activities fulfill us, and value relationships.
Dr. Maha Broum, author of ‘Parenting under Stress’ works as a parent/student guidance counselor in Mississauga, Ontario,
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