Samantha, an executive for a Fortune 100 company and mother of two, loves to shop. While her job requires her to be nicely dressed, Samantha admits that she also often uses shopping as recreation. She brings her children shopping with her, and as a reward for waiting patiently while she tries on clothes and looks at jewelry, she’ll buy them a new toy, gadget, or outfit.
“Just lately, I’ve started to wonder what I’m teaching them,” she says. “Are my children learning that having fun means buying things? My husband and I don’t have a lot of time to spend with the kids, and the time we do have, we’re often at the mall.”
Children watch the decisions their parents make about their furnishings, their cars, and their clothes and accessories. While too young to articulate it, on every trip to the mall, Samantha’s 10-year-old son was observing the time his mom gave to purchasing things versus the time she gave to her relationships. Samantha was right to question what her son was learning.
“I’ve heard it said that people spend for who we want to be, not who we really are,” says Denise, mother of three, who tries to be intentional about leading a lifestyle simpler than she and her lawyer husband, Arthur, might be able to afford to give their three children. “So many adults see nothing odd about a new dress for every occasion, a new car every two years, a new phone with every upgrade, new restaurants to try, new gyms to join,” she says. “It is hard to tell a kid they are loved for who they are—and not what they own—if we as parents are still spending our money on a chance at acceptance.”
For Denise and Arthur, faith drives their decision not to overspend. “Christianity gives us a great head start on rejecting materialism because of our belief in God’s love and acceptance for us. If we are clued in to this grace, we are most likely to surround ourselves with friends who don’t charge admittance for acceptance.”
Denise believes that when parents are comfortable with themselves and have friendships based in common interests and values rather than status, children will follow suit. “Our kids see and experience these relationships,” she says. “They see the peace of being and not buying. They, too, will more likely surround themselves with friends who accept them and will be less charmed by the glamour of the new, the shiny, and the short-lived.” …continued next week
By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2014 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for four years running. Here’s a sample issue.
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