4 Thoughts from Inflatable Pumpkins (on Kids & Consumerism)

  by Erik Wolgemuth

An inflatable pumpkin got me thinking recently…

I was strolling into our local Home Depot with the kids and was immediately confronted by a massive display of Halloween merchandise. It was one of those moments, when I realized that we live in a ceaseless rush of consumerism. Back to school, then Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then Valentine’s Day, etc. Having my kids with me has made me reflect on how to best raise them in the midst of such a consumer-centric atmosphere. An environment that does not let up from trying to breed discontent and/or desire for more stuff in almost every aspect of life. So far, I’ve got four take-aways that I’ve been mulling over…

  1. I need to be aware. In many ways, I feel numb or perhaps just accustomed (and resigned) to living in a world that’s consistently marketing to me. Even if I don’t buy into it, being ambivalent towards what’s happening around me – and around my kids – isn’t good dadcraft. I’ve realized that even if something is the norm, it doesn’t mean I should set aside discretion and wisdom.
  2. I need to look in the mirror. Kids are the great reflectors of our lives, are they not? For better…and for worse. Sometimes it’s humorous – like when you realize that phrase they now utilize is something you didn’t even realize you say – and sometimes it’s sobering. I’ve realized that so much of my kids’ attitude towards consumerism is framed by how I react to marketing and advertising. It’s easy for me personally to begin to believe that I do need the latest ___ to stay current and on trend. It only follows that my kids would pick up and embrace similar thoughts as well.
  3. I need to just say no (sometimes). Every errand run with dad doesn’t need a special treat. Every birthday doesn’t need to check off every item from the wish list. Helping kids understand that just because they may want a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup every time we hit the checkout line on a Saturday morning errand run (hey kids, I’m right there with you) doesn’t mean you always get one. I’ve realized that saying “no” at the right moments and explaining why are key to fighting consumerism…for me and them.
  4. I need to practice thoughtful giving. We’re just coming out of a season of birthdays in our household and more and more, we’re trying to practice thoughtful, intentional giving. Quality over quantity. Memories over fads. That doesn’t mean a wholesale dismissal of all toys for the remainder of childhood birthdays, but it does mean I want to get better at thinking about what will last. About the birthdays and the gifts that are going to stick in the kids’ minds a decade (or two) down the road.

There’s plenty more that could be said when it comes to raising content kids and so I’ve realized that there’s plenty more for me to learn along with them.


On a related topic, our guide to teaching basic money management may be a help. And we recently highlighted a favorite financial coach: Matt about Money.

Sign up for every-other-week-dadcraft in your inbox bi-weekly via our newsletter.

Picture by slgckgc; Used via Creative Commons license.