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As a mom with 2 young kids growing up in the US, I often wonder how to describe to them the privileges they have. They don’t see privileges as privileges as it is their everyday.They never know anything different.They don’t get what it means to have the comforts that they parents had once only dreamed of, as they are missing one thing. Perspective.
Perspective is a beautiful thing, it constantly gives us a comparison of what life used to be to what it is today and makes us feel happy about the progress curve in life. But if your kids start out at the very top of the curve, what will they have to compare their future lives to? Think about that for a second. According to various studies, happiness is derived when we feel we have worked hard and progressed beyond where we started. A constant look at this curve is our source for happiness. The reason I say this is because we all want our kids to be happy. Wealthy is just one metric but, ultimately the goal is to be happy. I don’t believe success should only be measured through one metric MONEY but that topic will take up a whole another blog post for me to argue upon.
We cannot take away our kid’s basic privileges, but we can teach them to value what they have. So how on earth do we do that?
I talk to my 8-year-old son constantly about Materialism. And is there really a need for all the “stuff” that everyone owns. The average American household has 300 thousand items.I talk to him about the Capitalistic economy and the brainwashing of advertisements everywhere. I ask him questions like have you ever thought about who stitched the shirt you are wearing or the shoes you are wearing. I educate him about these probably being from a place like Bangladesh or India where kids his age work in factories 7 days a week to eat one meal a day.The more items we buy, the ever-increasing demand to make cheaper items, the more stress on developing countries to work at lower and lower wages.
And I ask him to think about where items go once the vanity of a new toy plane or car wears off. I educate him on the thrown away clothes being #2 on the “most polluting” list in the world.We live in a use and throw culture where nothing is valued. In a culture of excess, it is hard to teach value.Hard to teach why less is always more. Why more things you have of value, as opposed to just number of things equals more happiness.Sigh.
We parents wonder if our such everyday rants ever make an impact on our kids in making them better human beings.But I want to tell you today they absolutely do.
This summer before school started, my son counted the number of shirts and pants he had, and HE told me he did not need anymore. He has the same backpack since he started Kindergarten, one pair of shoes and a few toys he values. The idea is not to deprive them of what they want but for them to be MINDFUL of what do they really value. And apply the same idea to every other aspect of their life such as valuing five real friendships v.s 3000 Twitter followers.
So don’t stop parents, continue the everyday rants and talks on values important to you. More power to you! Coz behind your kids rolling eye expressions, there will be a thought-provoking idea, which will ultimately make a better house, neighborhood, society, country of better thinking, mindful and responsible individuals.
Shubha is a mom of 2 boys three and eight years old. She has a great passion for Indian Classical music and outdoor sports such as hiking, biking and running. She is currently working on setting up her own Startup company in the Silicon Valley where she has been living for the last 10 years.