I am not a parent and I’m not sure if I’ll ever have kids, but I do know this: babies don’t need shoes. One of the more disturbing trends I’ve witnessed over the past few years is a consumerism & shopping addiction applied to child rearing. It’s surprising how often I see newborns wearing shoes that cost more than mine. The kids seem to know it’s crazy, they spend the entire time they’re wearing them trying to get them off their feet!
It seems worryingly common for new parents to spend ridiculous amounts of money accessorizing their babies. Countless hours are spent obsessing over the fashion of an infant – with what result? Does a little baby, incapable of walking, really need new sneakers every few months? And are the parents of a child better off wasting time & growing their debt for a fleeting moment of, “oh how cute”?
It starts at the baby shower, and it doesn’t stop for years – kids grow quickly, so new outfits and other expensive nonsense are purchased regularly. Closets are filled with things that are worn once before they are outgrown, and parents entertain themselves by playing dress up, treating their children like dolls. “Supporting a family is so expensive” is the refrain, people maintain that it’s impossible to get by on an average income – but where are they wasting money? What conveniences and purely frivolous purchases do they overlook every month? If the money many parents put into buying unnecessary crap for their babies instead went toward savings, wouldn’t the world be a better place? Less waste & more quality time would be the likely side effects. If all of the effort put towards consuming instead went into connecting with and nurturing children, wouldn’t they grow up healthier?
This is obviously just one example of the sickness that permeates our culture, but it bothers me more than some of the others. Do the parents see their children as human beings to be loved and cared for, or as a source of entertainment and another excuse to spend money? Are they passing on important life lessons and care to their families, or just planting that deep seed of lust for things? Will their kids grow up to have compassion for others and goals, or will the stumble through life as a consumer? Of course, most parents are capable of giving love and care to their children while still unnecessarily spending absurd amounts of money on them – but sometimes I wonder how much better things might be if that distraction didn’t exist? And how many parents out there substitute money and a life of consumption for love and quality time?
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