Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Children and excess

Do you ever worry about the type of culture and environment you'll end up raising your kids in? 

Kids for us are still a few years away, and lately I have just been so disgusted when I think about the atmosphere our kids will live in.  I'm not talking about the evils of society and all that big picture stuff, though that is important and certainly has the ability to make me anxious.  What I mean are the little things; all these subtle (or not so sublte) changes in culture that have left us in a world where kids and young people expect so much, mostly because we as adults give it to them.

Couple of examples:

1.  Newborn photo shoots.  ALL of my friends who recently had babies (like, all 15 of them, no lie) have gotten these done.  It is the new trend along with trendy engagement shots and wedding pictures.  Do you know how much these cost?  Average price around here is $250-350--and that's just for the session and the disc of pics.  You still have to pay for all the pictures that you want printed out. 

Now, hear me say, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting cute little pics of your precious bundle made when they are a week old.  If you have the money and want to do that, that's your right.  What bothers me about it is that now dropping hundreds of dollars on an artsy newborn photography session is the new normal.   It's expected.  Everyone drops money on that, and then on Christmas card pictures, and maternity photo shoots.  You can't just snap a picture on your digital camera anymore; you have to have artsy shots outside where everyone's color schemes match.

I am all for family memories, but it strikes me as odd that we spend so much money for "cute" pictures.  Is it excessive?  I will take tons of pics of our kids, and they will have scrapbooks galore, but I can guarantee you that there will be other things we will spend money on before I take out a second mortgage to photograph my newborn baby sitting naked on my bed with a cute hat on.  I can do that pretty cheaply myself, you know.

2.  Prom.  Oh mercy.  Have you heard about all the different, creative, out of this world ways that guys asks girls to prom now?  It is insane.  I would hate to be a guy in high school nowadays because evidently it's not just having a date to prom that matters anymore, it's how you ask her.  At first I thought these stories were cute, but then one day I started wondering if it was setting girls up for a huge let down.  I mean, a guy asks you to prom and it involves a flash mob and balloons and half the student body of your high school, and where do you go from there?  Do you want to be getting engaged and think, "Well this isn't as good as when I got asked to prom?"  I'm not a huge fan of over the top proposals either (that's just my personal style), but asking someone to prom should not rival a Broadway production.

I also wonder if this isn't giving our daughters a false definition of romance.  We are teaching our girls that the guys who do the big creative, "loud" things are the ones to go for.  And a lot of times, those guys are all for show, and have no substance. We aren't teaching our girls that it's the consistent, dependable guys that are worth going for.  Instead we tell them to desire the things that are showy and that get you attention. 

A co-worker of mine's daughter went to prom a couple years ago, and they spent hundreds of dollars.  Because you don't just buy a dress anymore, but all the girls get their hair and nails done, and go to the tanning bed, etc. Again, are we setting them up for disappointment later in life?  Are we making prom out to be a "little wedding" for our girls?  Is that OK?  I don't think proms are bad in and of themselves (though goodness they can be).  I just hate how we put so much emphasis on it (and money into is!) when really, it's just a high school dance.  It's not a wedding or graduation party.  It's just a dance.  Just. A. Dance. 

3.   Emotionally.  Ah, this is one that I think has snuck up on us.  After all, isn't it our job and role as a parent to give our kids all the love we can?  I think we have gotten the definition of love wrong.  I know so many parents whose house is ruled by a 25 pound 4 year old, because the parents have set no limits and are so afraid of giving their child negative attention that they now have created a devil child.  We are so afraid now to tell our kids "no".  We are so afraid to let life NOT revolve around our child. 

I know of several couples who won't go out to dinner or hang out with friends because "the baby goes to bed at 8:00 so we can't".  For the love people, take the kid with you and put them to sleep on your friend's bed.  Then when you want to leave you simply pick up your sleeping child and take him or her home with you.  It is not rocket science.

Your child feeling loved and your child feeling happy are not the same thing. 

You can love your child and have your child be unhappy sometimes. 

Really, it's OK to hurt their feelings when needed.  Your life, time, schedule, budget, etc should not revolve around your child.  They are not the sun.  Your family life includes them, but it should not be based around them.  What sort of self centered creature are you trying to create?

I tell my husband often that we are going to raise our children Amish. Though, to be fair, that wouldn't automatically save us from temptation #3 listed above.  How I pray more than anything that God gives us a good heaping or good old fashioned common sense when it comes time for us to parent!

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