Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Some parenting notes

I've got to teach my kids about consumerism and the value of money. I think my partner and I do a fairly decent job by living by example. We skip commercials on the PVR, we don't give into our kid's demands for the latest plastic junk fad, we buy used clothing and toys as much as possible, and we have conversations about living within your means and investing in quality. But I think we can do better. Here are a couple other pointers I learned today:

1. Explain to kids that they are being marketed to: the toy companies don't care about you, they only care about your money. I don't think I've ever put it this way before. Makes perfect sense. Once they understand the intent behind the message, they'll be less likely to be sucked in. This one also makes me smile because it's a message I've reminded my partner of many times -- "the stripper that danced for you guys all night, she doesn't want you, just your money."

2. Show them the effects of consumerism: pictures of landfill, basements filled with shit (don't have to go far to witness that one), fat kids who ate too much MacDonald's, etc. Hell why not talk about child labour or unsafe working conditions in overseas sweat shops (k, maybe that's a bit too much, at least for now).

3. Talk about credit cards and the concept of interest. My 7 yr old is strong in math and I know he'll get this, but for some reason I hesitate to talk about the harsh realities of life. But why not be straight about it? Is this why so many ppl are are drowning in debt? Teaching the kids financial literacy is my responsibility. Maybe they are ready for it.

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