posted by Kristin Williamson
August 8, 2011 @ 4:39 pm
In this culture of materialistic consumerism, it can sometimes seem as if children are born with the ‘me’ syndrome. It’s a natural part of development, but families struggle to teach their children to look beyond themselves, and who can blame them? Annually $17 billion is spent by companies advertising to children in the U.S. Kids are inundated by images of toys, trinkets and gadgets and face pressure to have the latest and greatest items. Children transfer this pressure to adults who indulge their requests, a cycle that gives children enormous buying power.
As kids, we might not have ‘needed’ to have an iPhone, but pressure to have ‘stuff’ has always been around. I remember the scene in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women where Amy, the youngest March sister, is caught with pickled limes (the latest fad) at school, which was against the rules, a major luxury in that day, and in her world a way to ‘win over friends.’ More present day, you might remember this Lending Tree commercial where the guy has lots of really nice stuff, but is up to his eyeballs in debt. The commercial is funny, but it really does make you think about things and the messages we might be sending our children about money and stuff, sometimes without even realizing.
Indulgences are completely acceptable, but understanding that nice spring break trips, netbooks and higher education are advantages and not the standard for all families is sometimes a lesson children miss. Beyond financial literacy, teaching children about money and giving further provides an opportunity to help children explore their own interests in helping others by providing a platform for awareness and a reality check about money. If we are truly committed to raising giving children, we need to expose them to more than the latest material indulgences and engage them in the matters of society and community. Otherwise it is highly likely that they will not be aware.