Saturday, November 24, 2007

Toys your children can't live without

Are there some? Why is that? Why are there toys your children feel they must have? Or that you feel they must have?

Are you one of those parents who is running around, frantic to get the latest coolest thing for your kid? Why? How did a toy or other item get to be so important to you or to him?

Is it the marketing of the product? Did your child see the advertisements and decide he needed that toy desperately too? How did he become so susceptible to advertising?

Is it because "all the other kids have it?" Does your child feel she won't fit in if she doesn't have what all the other kids have? How did she come to feel that way?

Is it because you are afraid you will be considered a bad parent if your child does not have whatever items are "hot" right now? Is it because you don't want to disappoint your child on Christmas morning? How did your child grow to have the expectation that you (or Santa) would and could make all his dreams come true?

Are you buying your child things you don't really like or think your child should have, but feel like you have to give in to avoid a Christmas morning tantrum?

Toys and games are great. Stuff is great! Some things are useful, like Legos and Playmobil and dollhouses and building blocks. Some are just fun, like Nerf guns. Some are both. I can't say much about game systems because I don't have any experience with them. I imagine some games are both useful and fun. Some I've heard of seem to be neither.

I think giving and receiving presents is part of the spirit of Christmas. Christians celebrate the greatest gift of all, our Lord Jesus Christ. Folks who celebrate "secular" or the cultural holiday of Christmas are celebrating the spirit of love and giving.

But when a child claims they need, really need a certain thing, something is wrong. When a parent expends a frantic effort (and perhaps pays an inflated price) to obtain some desirable item, something is wrong.

If you have young children, don't let them get caught up in advertising and peer pressure so that they feel they need certain things to survive. If you have older children that are already caught up in it, look at the way you respond to advertising or to peer pressure. Are you coveting your neighbor's new living room furniture or cellphone? Do your kids see you pining for the newest coolest things? Are you discontent and showing it?

Start inoculating your kids against the "must haves" now. It might be painful at first, but eventually everyone will be more content and Christmas can be more joyful.

(This post has been in my head for a while but also partly inspired by this from the Headmistress at the Common Room.)

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