By: Carol Maxym Ph.D.
Being a parent is hard work, but it can also be one of the most rewarding responsibilities in life. At times, it can be difficult to make decisions in a world that’s hyper-saturated with marketing that targets children both online and off.
I want to share an anecdote about a trip to Walmart. I was waiting to check out and overheard the following conversation between a mother and her 8-year-old son.
Mom: “I’ve already bought you…” she then proceeded to list off about 10 toys she had already purchased in the last week. “Isn’t that enough?”
“No.” Her son responded simply and pointedly.
Again mom went on the defensive.
“I just can’t afford it today.”
Her son walked over to a toy counter placed right by the checkout lines for kids to examine while their parents wait in line to pay. Retailers do this on purpose to increase the likelihood or impulse buys. After his mother had already said no, the child found another toy (I think it was a Lego set) and placed it into their basket.
“I don’t have the money for it,” the mother responded plaintively as her son turned the box over to see the other side.
I don’t actually know for sure if the mother ended up buying the toy for the little boy because I was ahead in line. Part of me really wanted to tell her:
“Don’t let him put you on the defensive. Your goodness and value as a mom isn’t measured by how much stuff you purchase. In fact, your son will be better off if you teach him restraint, self-discipline, and mindfulness instead of impulse purchasing. Instant gratification isn’t helpful.”
However, I didn’t say any of that. What do you think? Should I have said something? Would you have wanted someone to say something to you?