Wednesday, April 26, 2006


In the last post, about shopping and indulging children, Millie left a comment that set me to thinking:

" What I wonder about is when the kids get a little older, what is going to make them happy. They have already had all the things it took a lifetime for us elders to earn by a lot of hard work."

That is the same thing I said many years ago when I saw a young woman who was my age at the time. Mr. Kenju and I were attending a wedding in Greenwich, Connecticut, of one of his college classmates. As we were standing in the reception line, several young women entered the country club in fur coats, each one more exquisite than the last. I no longer subscribe to the theory that it is okay to wear furs - but I was not against it then. One of the women had on a full-length chinchilla coat that was so gorgeous I couldn't take my eyes off it. Another classmate told me that she had worn a full-length sable coat the night before to the rehearsal dinner. I could only think, "What on earth does she have to look forward to if she has all this at the age of 23??!!" I realized that the coats could well have belonged to her mother, but even so, she had access to them and not many of us can say that. My mom had a mink stole (like nearly every woman in the 40's) but I would not have been caught dead in it.

What are we teaching children when we indulge them so deeply at a tender age? They are learning that if they want something badly enough, mommy or daddy will wave a credit card and get it for them. That breeds a generation or more of people who believe in the buy now - pay later theory, which leads to the shows I have seen on Oprah recently called "The Debt Diet", and the things that Suze Orman preaches on her show. We all need to learn fiscal responsibility and how to curb tendencies toward overindulging. How do you accomplish this?


ET said...

I agree. It seems, around me anyway, people have to have the newest and most expensive of things.
I think materialism has gotten out of control.

Peter said...

It gets worse with each new generation Judy, don't know where the end is?

Terri said...

Add me to your list of dismayed at what children are given material-wise in today's world.
I was an only child, both my parents worked at good jobs and I must say (as an adult) my mom did a great job of letting me know real early in life that one canNOT always get what one wants. I think a lot of it today has to do with the fact parents feel guilt at working and not spending quality time with their kids. Foolishly, they believe a $175 make-over will fill the void. Such a sad situation. And as you said, what's left to enjoy as we get older? Probably boredom with no regard for the important things in life.

bornfool said...

Exactly what I was trying to say in my fairy tale post a few days ago.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Good question, Judy...
I sure don't know the answer...when I hear about kids of 9 or 10 having cell phones, and iPods and whatever....Then I think well, by the time they are young adults there will be nothing left to 'want'...It has to be very very hard to have young children today with all the consumerism that is rampant. I agree with you and wonder, where will this all end-- On Oprah?? It is scary the debt that can be accumulated by this method, isn't it?

srp said...

I try to remember that all of this is just temporary, everyone will come to the end of life and you cannot take money or things with you. It isn't what you have accumulated but whose lives you've touched and the state of your heart that matters.

Jamie Dawn said...

We are not well off by any stretch of the imagination, but our kids have had their own bedrooms since they were little, a PlayStation, and lots of the latest toys and gadgets.
I think the best thing for kids to hear besides, I Love You, is the word, NO.
They need to hear it, and parents need to stick by it when they say it. No means No. And even if you CAN afford to give your kids everything, it's not a good idea to do so. Kids need to learn to wait for or work for some things that they want.

goldenlucyd said...

What a great topic. I think this excess is just appalling. I urge you to read the Time (4/24/06) essay by Ana Marie Cox, "Sweet 16 and Spoiled Rotten." It's a wonderful comment on the subject.

Deb R said...

I don't have the answer to the question, but I thin it's one we need to be asking ourselves. The cartoon you posted yesterday is almost to true to be funny. Sigh.

Thanks for stoppnig by my blog yesterday.

Laura said...

You struck a chord there, Judy... and it's an excellent question.

My girls are 17 and 13. I can't tell you how often their friend's parents will shower them with material things, that I think are largely unneccessary. For example, I don't remember getting gifts for Easter, other than candy and stuffed bunnies when I was a kid.
One of my daughter's friends got a new cell phone. Another got a pair of $50 sandals! Same thing happened on Valentines day... my daughter came home listing all the presents that her friends got.

I know parents here who will buy their kids tickets to Busch Gardens or the Water parks on their day off from school, just to keep them busy. (We live about an hour away from those parks).

It makes it harder on those of us who believe in teaching our kids to work for some of the things they want to have. I really feel there is value in teaching them to appreciate the simple act of a job well done.
I just wish more parents today felt the same.

Adam (uber god) said...

Just thought I would comment on the consumerism debate. There was a huge expose about that in Dallas paper that pointed out this problem a few months back for my area. Unfortunately it's a huge problem here, it's just the way people are raised.

Click Here for the article.

Weary Hag said...

Judy, I've been playing catch up a bit here ... I totally agree with you on this post. I recall a full length fur coat my mom had (stored in moth balls) in the old attic. I found it just at a time when it was "cool" to wear such things with your jeans and t-shirt (late 60s early 70s)
I never even appreciated the fact that this had once been a terribly expensive purchase by my father ... and how much my mother treasured it when it was new.