Originally Posted by The4OfUs
I think one thing that bothers me about "Extreme AP/NFL" (or extreme consumerism; really, extreme anything) is the implication that it is "The Best", and therefore implies that everything else (and anyone else that doesn't do it) is subpar. Which many would say, 'of course! I want my child to have only the best!' but to which I say, 'eh, good enough is sometimes good enough.' Sometimes, too much BEST-ing can create an elitist attitude, and create anxiety about perfection.
Yes I agree, and not only anxiety. It can also create the consumerist snobbery/elitism that prevents people from interacting with those who are different from them. So much of the Bratz vs. Magic Cabin is about fitting in - I have a Bratz because my child's friends have Bratz (or Waldorf dolls). This is why we left the local Waldorf preschool - the people there were still obsessively consuming stuff, it was just wooden/silk stuff. And they were using their beliefs about the superiority of their consumption (the kinds of food they ate, the kinds of toys they consumed) to judge and dismiss other families who did not consume the correct stuff.
Whether you're consumerism is focused on wool dollies or plastic, it's still consumerism if you think that you must have this to feel/be 'ok'.
Originally Posted by queenjane
I guess i have a hard time reconciling this idea that our poor kids are at the mercy of this huge corporate consumerist culture and that parents are the "first line of defense" (too lazy to go back and quote the actual post)....because that just isnt our reality. Not.At.All.
And i guess THAT is what i see sooooo much hear at MDC...Fear. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid that tv will rot my kid's brain out, that sugar will rot his teeth out, that an orange toy laser gun will turn him into a violent adult. I'm just not. You know why? Because i look at my child, really LOOK at him, and see that the BEST innoculation you can give your child against violence, against consumerism, against gender stereotyping, against all of that, is a combo of love, respect, and open communication.
I have no idea about your personal circumstances but out here in suburbia my kids are surrounded by advertising including their peers' clothing/lunchboxes/backpacks, kids "magazines" they get at school, Channel One (and they really wanted "Bus Radio", which forces kids to listen to advertisements while they ride the bus to school). Book fairs are no longer about books - they're about collecting Sponge Bob candy, toys, and computer games. The teachers slap advertisement stickers for Chuck E Cheese on the kids' shirts to remind their parents that tonight is Chuck E Cheese night. Assemblies (again, compulsory) include advertisements and sponsorships. Sports programs include the same, and kids *must* wear logo-laden jerseys to be on the team. It. never. stops.
When I talked about being my child's first line of defense I wasn't speaking out of fear. It's anger, more of a Gandalfian "You shall not pass!" to the Belroc that constantly tells them they are not pretty enough, good enough, popular enough, or fun enough without this one special thing they must consume. Or tells me I *must* formula feed, be induced, have a c-section, circumcise my son, or serve them french fries because otherwise I'm not liberated/a bad mommy and my kids will feel "different".
You're right that kids aren't stupid; neither are adults. But *plenty* of non-stupid adults out there think things will solve the problem of their loneliness, sadness, or anger. How much consumer debt do we have in this country? Plenty of non-stupid adults spiral into addiction. Talking about infomercials, what ads are really selling, where things come from, and creating critical consumers is part of the moral education of our children and part of "attaching"; I assume everyone here is doing that and understands its value. But it's not enough. In many other industrialized countries marketing to children is prohibited; here it's not. So I have to do some of that myself.
Regarding buying the crappy breakable toy that will give him joy for five minutes, how many of these do you buy before you say "you know honey we aren't made out of money"? And of course the consumer decisions they make have more serious consequences as they get older. A crappy scooter can cause injuries. Because resources are finite (natural, monetary, time, and other) I think part of my job as a parent is to sometimes say no while I am busy educating them to be prudent stewards of their own and our world's resources. Joy comes from many places; the least of these is "stuff".
Many childrens' products (and the advertising that surrounds them) perpetuate stereotypes - Scantily clad Bratz babies in fishnet stockings perpetuate a stereotype of women I don't want my children around. Are you really saying I'm living in fear if I don't let my dd have hooker-dollies? And yes, in this case even just.one.hooker.dolly *does* make a difference in my girl's perception of what is beautiful and valued in our society. *Especially* if all her friends have them and advertising for them is *everywhere*.
You mentioned orange squirt guns, but what about video games where kids get to rape the hooker for extra points? Is that part of their learning experience? Is taking them to the hospital to be treated for lead poisoning part of their learning experience? Some things I'd rather just avoid - they will have plenty of opportunities to experience life's rougher lessons when they are adults.
But at the bottom of all this is the underlying problem to me that remains - commercialism doesn't just promote specific products. It promotes consumption as a way of life. Every celebration is turned into a consumption-fest, and it implies that consuming is the solution to every problem.
Children are smart, but they are *not* adults. They simply don't have the same skills and abilities to discriminate that we have. That's why sex with adults, liquor, tobacco, and certain games, movies and activities are restricted for them. Sometimes you have to say no. And that doesn't make you coercive, controlling, or fearful. It makes you a parent.