Sliding down the slides, as fast as he can, swinging on the swings as high as the wind will take him, running with all his might holding back nothing, just running to run; such is the life of a four year old. Playing, laughing, hugging whenever the urge hits him, smiling and singing out loud with no self doubts only pure innocent happiness and true joy; such is the life of a four year old child. Making a silly squishy face stuck between the playground pillars he is being silly and acting goofy; such is the life of a four year old child.
Little does he know that one day the world will press in on him like those playground pillars? Not on one given day but throughout his lifetime he will have to find coping skills to keep the world from crushing his happy spirit and his inner joy. Sad and negative yet true. Our secular world wants people to be happy and joyful but only when you have purchased the correct big ticket items, when you live in the right neighborhood, when you associate with the “in crowd”, when you adhere to the list that society deems as the happy, successful people ,then they will allow you happiness and joy. But is that true happiness and inner joy?
Our society begins pressuring our youth at a very young age through ads during cartoons; you have to have this toy to look cool like those kids on TV. Our children feel pressured by their peers to have the DS or IPOD or IPHONE because that’s what everybody is receiving for Christmas this year mom! By the time our children have reached the teen years it has snowballed into an overgrown monster that threatens to consume the spirit of your child, through the media, the web, peers, and ads.
What on earth can we do about this as parents?
Is there even a way to change the inevitable trading of our intrinsic value for the fleeting happiness that materialism buys us? We do it at home with the way we live our daily lives. Every time our children witness our choices and attitudes towards everything. Our children are little sponges, they soak it all up. When your husband says “I work hard and I deserve to have that 58″ plasma flat screen TV”! When as mom we say “If only I had that SUV instead of this old minivan.” When we choose to buy every little thing we believe our children desire and withhold nothing! When we say to ourselves “I don’t want my child to be the only one without the IPHONE, let’s just get one.” Every time we give into the materialism of the world and place too much value on things we must have and little time on how happy we are as a family, the world presses in. If you as a parent are not happy and find happiness only in things your child will carry that attitude as well. Have they caught you yet, the advertisers, the media, our culture? Have you been sucked into believing you cannot be happy without that brand new SUV, flat screen TV, latest computer or blackberry?
There is a way to stop it, not the world but your children’s view of it. You have to readjust your own view. Truly reflect about what you place value on and decide if that is what you want for your children. If that is not what you want for your children you can change it. Instead of talking about what you want all of the time, talk about how blessed you are with your family. Tell them wealth and money fade away and things break and are disposed of but people are what you value. Show them by not just telling them but take the time to prove it by making your time together as a family your first priority. Do things as a family, that do not require lots of stuff. Go for walks together, hikes and explorations. Go to the park and play together, just play a board game, take the time to spend time together as a family interacting with each other. Instead of being at home in the same house with your children in different rooms playing video games, listening to iPods, or trolling over twitter make sure that at some point of the day you spend it together as a family. Eat dinner as a family without distraction; no TV, no computer, no newspaper. Talk about your day, give everyone the chance to talk and listen to each other. Learn to value your time together, your love for one another, your family and not things.
This world is already pressing in on our innocent, precious children we cannot stop that. But we can give them a foundation, an attitude and values so that the world cannot rob them of true happiness and inner joy that comes only from sharing love with others, given to us by the grace of God.