Recently, I saw the movie "Cinderella Man" and liked it even more than I thought I would. It is a true story. One of the main themes to the movie was this boxers enduring hardship during the Depression.
Striking to me how we in our feeble human minds can get so used to the "norm" of what our "needs" are and then be completely struck when we see the true reality of what the difference between "need" and "want" really is. Having gone through my own stretches of financial ups and downs, needing financial assistance, being unemployed and so forth, I tend to think I have a good grasp of the need-want department. And having babysat for years from age 10 to my mid 20s, I always vowed I would not raise a spoiled child. There is nothing worse than a spoiled child and it's very difficult to reverse course. But nothing worse than looking a child who is hungry in the eye either as he did in the movie, and saying "well, we need to save some for the boys honey" . Especially when it's one very thin slice of meat. The Dad gives up his piece to the child. Very moving stuff. And something our current culture needs to see more often! Seeing the shack huts scattered about Central Park was absolutely surreal. At birthday time we try to limit the fancy, big birthday parties that are so prevalent these days but yet we still abide to a bowling party or similar type of event of games, cake and mayhem. In the movie, the entire neighbor of children, all poor, share birthday cake with each other. So a birthday child gets one very small piece. And that's it. That's his or her birthday.
Somewhere in the middle there must be a happy medium and watching the film I came to realize that's exactly where we are. After watching the film, I felt abundunce and prosperity in my lower middle class existence. But taking that even further, years ago we'd be upper middle. The line keeps getting moved doesn't it? And while I do feel sad that there are still children like the ones in the film who are impoverished and indeed homeless. I also felt saddness for the children who's lives have been overindulged to mind numbing degrees. My children are fortunate enough to go to private, parochial school. So we see that alot. Kids in first grade that have traveled the world and I'm not exaggerating. How cool for them to have seen New Zealand and Australia and Belize, Yes! But at 7? I'll take our family "Slime Time LIVE" whipped cream events out on the patio any day and something tells me so would the kids. Few Pie tins and few bowls of whupped cream and for under $10 you have some serious laughter and messy fun.
My daughter is in 3rd grade and keeps saying she's saving up for a cell phone. She sees the marketing of "Free phone" or get the phone for $9.99 etc. I explained to her that with that comes a monthly fee of $30 or more to use the phone and that where would she get the money for that? Then that leads each time into- need and want- why would you NEED a cell phone anyway? Then it comes out. Half her class has one. God's truth I ask? Yup she says. NINE YEARS OFAGE PEOPLE?! Okay, Okay I know it may be handy for the child's security and safety if Mommy and Daddy work alot but seriously this one is hard to swallow. It's more of the WANT then necessity far as I can tell--"Mom Dad- everyone else has one so if I pester you enough can I have one too?" Ohhhh okay, why not! They have laptops too. I don't even have a laptop and I have my own business and am almost 40! We give them their own huge rooms at birth. BMW's at 15, dress them
in as much clothes as an adult closet. They have email addresses, laptops and cell phones. What's next- a car that will "appreciate until you can drive it?" *sigh* And indeed it's better than them starving in an impoverished third world country... I'll give you that. But couldn't we find a happy medium here?
I can only focus on my own children and that's what we will continue to do. Provide a few wants here and there but in the end be thankful that it's just a few here and there. It's for there own good. And here's to the other side of the chasm when children are raised with the living example of altruism and what their basic needs are... not a nonsensical world of wants.