Greed has never revealed itself before as severe a passion as today. Since the human being came into existence, the passion for possessing has not decreased; on the contrary it has increased and continued as ‘winning, having, consuming.’ This consumption culture, which has surrounded our life, sometimes goes so far that today’s human being makes even his family and children ‘objects of consumption’ without knowing. When the parents act without thinking about how their consumption habits influence their children, it becomes unavoidable that the children are dragged in this culture.
This is because children learn about life and how to live it by imitating their parents and observing them. They internalize what they live and see through their parents. In time, these life experiences turn into basic habits and attitudes. Especially in the pre-school period, the lifestyle of the family, habits of entertainment and spending are imprinted on the child’s mind and become a part of it. If the family leads a consumption centred life, if the conversations at home are all about consumption, and if the times spent together are always in shopping malls which are the places of a consumption frenzy, consequently the children turn into individuals who do not know to give, who are selfish without knowing the value of producing, and without discovering the pleasure of the things they use. Unfortunately our children are also caught in this current of consumption at the present time. Their control mechanisms have not developed and they have difficulty in postponing pleasure; this has made it hard for them to stand against this current.
Affection, which parents can use in a wrong way, is another factor that pushes the children toward the culture of consumption. Thinking that being a good parent means not letting one’s children to be deprived of anything, many parents have started to buy whatever their kids want without even a little delay. As a result of this, the number of dissatisfied and greedy children is increasing day by day.
Suggestions for a solution
First of all, as parents, we can have a look at our lives and make some changes with our styles of shopping, entertainment and how we spend our time. We can start by removing the traces of the consumption culture in our lives.
The greatest factor that promotes consumption today is a growing number of huge shopping malls. If we spend our times with our children only at shopping malls, the culture of consumption has already started to take root in them. As parents we can take our children to museums, parks, libraries, historical places, picnic areas, zoos, animal farms, and relatives. Therefore, the shopping mall becomes one of the places we spend time, not the only one.
One of the things that instils the culture of consumption is cartoons. First the heroes of the cartoons come into the lives of children, and then we can see many toys and products of those heroes at the shops. We can protect our children from being attached to a hero and buying all the products associated with that hero. Keeping our children away from TV commercials is one of the main precautions.
We can use the old objects at home instead of throwing them away. In this way, our children learn the culture of “reusing old materials,” instead of “throw away the old one and buy a new one.” Making the old cloths a dust cloth, making a ball with waste paper, using stale bread in meatballs… Similarly, fixing the broken toys would be more beneficial than throwing them away at once. Using that which we cannot fix in a different way or for a different purpose would teach the children to content themselves with what they have in their hand.
Acting according to the term “need” while buying something for our children may give a good result. “You do not need shoes but you do need a coat. And your sister needs a dress.” Instead of buying everything you see and like, buying what is needed directs our children to buying what they need, not whatever they want.
In order to make our children happy, it will be more fruitful to “do” something with them than to “buy” something for them. Making a toy instead of buying one; doing an activity instead of buying a chocolate. When we change our position from buying to doing, we raise children who produce, not consume.
Not to buy what our children want at once, delaying it a bit, making them wait a bit, and to say them we save money for it – which we can call the delay of pleasure – increases the value of what they possess even more. In this way our children learn the value of postponing their pleasure.