The Influence of Advertising or Just Plain Hype

10 12 2009

I tried to watch one of the children’s television programs tonite with my daughter, but it was impossible to stay with the story line because of all the interfering commercials offering all kinds of products, not only for the children, but also for the adults who would be watching with their children. Everything offered was something that ‘you must have’. Not only do you want this, but you absolutely, positively need it.

When I was growing up, my mother used to talk of ┬áChristmas at her house when she was growing up. There were 9 children and no father, so they had very little money for anything, much less for items they might want. On Christmas morning, all those 9 children got up and were thrilled and surprised to find an orange that Santa had left each of them. Later on, I read in the 50’s about a minority woman who was moaning that that was all she got for Christmas when she was a child. But she failed to mention that this was the norm for many of the families over the years. My mother never moaned nor complained about this. She thought that orange was a great and grand surprise to have for Christmas. Depends upon your attitude I guess. And on what you think you need to make you happy.

Nowadays, everyone expects to have everything imaginable under the tree on Christmas morning. And why? Because someone says they not only want this, but they need it in order to be happy in their lives. Everyone needs to step back and take a good hard look at their lives. What you need and what you want are two very different things. I might want a lot of things, but I really don’t need them. When I was growing up, I never realized that I didn’t need so many things until my parents told me so. I have heard the words, “You don’t need that” many times in my lifetime. Of course I thought I did need something because my friends all had it, or because I saw it in a magazine or heard about it on the radio. But that didn’t mean that I needed it. And thankfully, my parents taught me not to always want, want, want. They taught me well. I have never had the desire for ‘things’.

One year when I was a young teen, I insisted that I needed this particular kind of haircut. It was called a ‘feather cut’ and all my friends were getting this gorgeous haircut and they looked so beautiful that I just had to have one of those. My parents didn’t argue about it. They told me a couple of times that I didn’t need it, but I kept on insisting that I did. Finally, my mother took me to the beauty shop and I went in, thrilled beyond words. I sat down in the chair and insisted again that I needed this ‘feather cut’. The man tried to tell me that I would have to have a permanent also, but I insisted that my friends all had this wonderful haircut and I was getting one, too. And I was also going to be beautiful. Well, he did just like my parents had done. He didn’t bother to argue with me about it. He just set about cutting my hair. I watched in the mirror and the transformation just simply was not happening to me. I just looked the same. When he finished cutting, I paid the bill, but could not believe the way I looked. Sure enough, he was right. I didn’t need that ‘feather cut’. In order to have that beautiful hairdo, it was necessary to either have a permanent or to have naturally curly hair. But I had insisted until I won. And now I had chunks of hair all over my head. Instead of looking gorgeous, I just looked ridiculous. Where the hair was supposed to ‘feather’, mine sat like a clod all over my head. I was ashamed, but was stuck with the look for quite awhile afterwards. But I learned that just because I wanted that haircut didn’t mean that I needed it.

If you get a chance, teach your children they don’t need all those things they really just want. Teach them they don’t need things to be happy in their lives. Tell them they don’t need that until they learn the value of and the difference in wants and needs.

Bad Behavior and Personal Responsibility

23 09 2009

tantrumI am always spouting off about personal responsibility. Obviously, you cannot have personal responsibility if you have never been taught to have this. Parents are responsible for teaching all their children about taking care of themselves and being fully responsible for all their own behavior. This makes for responsible teens who do not get in any real trouble. And it makes for responsible adults who have good lives and nice families.

As I walked into the lobby of the school today, there was a young boy, kindergarten age, wallowing on the floor. His mother and teacher were both watching him as he whined and shed real tears because he did not want to attend school today. The boy even crawled over to the corner and stood up against the wall with his back to the adults. The teacher was obviously pretty exasperated. But the mother was begging, and begging, and begging the young boy to go to class. He looked over at me and grinned that grin that all spoiled kids  do when they know you are aware of their spoiled behavior. In other words, he knew that I knew he was just showing off, putting on, and getting his own way with all the attention he could possibly want.

And poor mother was put in a position of begging her wayward 5 year old to stop acting like a 2 year old. Poor Mother should have pulled him up off the floor and insisted that he go on to class. She should have let him know in no uncertain terms that it is his responsibility to act like a 5 year old and to attend the kindergarten class where he belongs. And then she should have turned her back and walked out the door. And she should have done this when he showed off and acted spoiled when he was 2 years old and 3 years old and 4 years old, too. He finally won this morning and poor mother took his hand, led him out the door, and even carried his back pack for him. Mother is not doing her son any favors by coddling him and making over him and begging him to act his age.

In fact, she is doing him a great disservice by refusing to make her son behave. Is he going to grin that spoiled grin behind her back and get into trouble when he is 15? Or when he is 25? When is she going to finally recognize that it is her role to be the mother and act like the mother and insist that her son act like a son should.

How is her son going to know about personal responsibility if she does not teach him? Is she expecting the teacher to be the one to instill this behavior? Or the principal? It is her job as his parent and first teacher to make sure that when her son walks out the door if it be age 5 or 15 or 25, that he is responsible for his own behavior. If she had been doing a good job, her 5 year old son would not today be wallowing in the school floor, crying fake tears, and whining.

It is up to the parents to teach personal responsibility to their children. And it must be taught every day in every instance. Day after day, year after year for all their growing up years.

If you expect your children to be responsible adults, you must teach them now – at home – to be responsible children. Personal Responsibility is an absolute must. And Responsible Parents always teach this to their children.