• Fri, Jan 18 2013

Woman Resolves To Spend ‘No Money’ On Her Child In 2013. Broke Parents Already Started This Trend, Lady

shutterstock_63325123So, a woman resolves to put an end to kiddy consumerism in 2013. I know what you’re going to say – Why do you have to pick on someone obviously trying to do something good? I don’t know. My heart is black? I’m jaded? Being strapped for cash has finally broken me down? Whatever it is – the woman bragging about not spending any money on her child this year is getting on my nerves.

As the year drew to an end, Hattie Garlick, a blogger from the UK decided “kiddy consumerism” was getting the best of her and her family. She was on vacationing with her family over the holidays when it struck her that her son was just as happy with the water gun she bought him as he would have been with the plethora of gifts he usually gets. A lightbulb went off. She writes in a piece for the Telegraph:

He was ecstatic. It was a weapon, then it was a tool for watering plants; no wait, it was definitely, actually, something to feed bedraggled dogs from. The Hamley’s stockroom could not have made him happier, or sparked his imagination more powerfully. And that’s when I had my eureka moment.

It was all superfluous.

At that moment she vows to only use second-hand clothes for the year, abandon the fancy organic food aisles at the market, give him kitchen haircuts, and organize play at home. And she’s got lots of women taking the “challenge” with her and following her blog, Free Our Kids.

I think she is totally right. Kiddy consumerism, as she calls it, is out of control. I just find her “challenge” a little insulting to those that have to live that way. Don’t you think parents who can’t afford to buy their kids new clothes would love to be able to? And buying organic – if you can afford it, why wouldn’t you? I would love to be able to afford to give my child an entire diet devoid of pesticides and hormones. And when I can, I will.

Maybe the challenge annoys me because it is reminiscent of the “food stamp challenge.” Remember that? People like Mario Batali saying that living on $31 a week “wouldn’t be all that brutal” with a little forethought. Hmm.

Whatever happened to moderation? The problem of kiddy consumerism isn’t going to be solved by a group of mothers taking a drastic “pledge” for a year. It’s kind of like a juice fast. You do it to make yourself feel better, but it doesn’t really do anything for your long-term health unless you can continue to incorporate it into your life. There is a huge range of behavior that exists between buying $400 Oscar De La Renta dresses for your toddler and only clothing her in second-hand swapped sweaters.  I think it’s better to live in that range than brag about depriving your child of stuff you can afford.

Call me crazy.

(photo: Anna Ts/ Shutterstock.com)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • Sara

    I definitely see your point, although I think the value of doing an extreme “year-long challenge” like this is illustrated by the fact that you wrote an article about it. One of the most insidious things about kiddie consumerism is that it’s so quickly become the norm, the base standard for how many parents think they should be providing for their kids and anything else is considered “weird” or “cheap” by many. Yes, you’re right–the best answer is probably somewhere in the middle, provided that you can afford that. But I see the value in anything that gets us talking about the ridiculous level of consumerism that has taken over American childhood and re-evaluating our priorities.

  • Hattie

    Hey there – really enjoyed your thoughts. I wonder if you read my post about our family income (http://www.freeourkids.co.uk/me-me-me-5/)?

    We’re not on the breadline but we definitely have to watch our pennies very closely. I hope that goes a little way (though not entirely I know) to allaying your worries that the project could be insulting to those for whom cutting out consumerism isn’t a choice.

    Re organic: I’ve never said I had any beef with organic! It’s just the kiddy specific snacks that I’m going to try to cut out. I’d still choose to buy organic meat for the whole family to eat together if I could afford to, every time.

    And on moderation: I’ve said, on the blog, that the idea is to start the year with a ‘zero spend’ rule so that I’m encouraged to look at all the things I spend money on, and decide whether it’s a valuable way of spending it or not. Hopefully, sensible, informed moderation will be the outcome!

    All best,

    H