Childhood Constraint

I was reading an interesting post earlier this month about a mother who had made the decision not to buy her children anything new in 2019. She claimed they already had everything they could need for the year ahead. Her thought process had apparently stemmed from adopting the same approach for herself in 2018. A year of not buying any new clothes, makeup or accessories.

The premise then, is undoubtedly a good one. We are all aware of the effects and devastating results modern-day consumerism is having. The gluttony, comparison and over-indulgence, often stemming from endless scrolling on social media, has led more of us into buying quickly and unnecessarily with little thought for the origin, consequence or elementary need of each item. 

Cutting down, being more mindful on what we are buying and why is instrumental in ensuring a more sustainable future. The problem, or controversy should I say, may now lie when we push and implement these views onto our children, especially young ones. Could refusing to buy them anything new for a whole year be deemed as taking it too far, perhaps? Ensuring they are aware that they do not always need new toys and clothes, or attempting to purchase more of these things second-hand, and of course teaching them the meaning of money and hard work, certainly isn’t, but should children, in all their innocent naivety, suffer the harsh consequences of parents’ inability to stop buying unnecessarily? 

The childhood of a child is notoriously growing shorter, so surely it’s imperative to prolong and encapsulate the magic for as long as we can? A toy pirate ship, a tipi tent in the garden, a dressing up costume, and yes, even the latest toy craze, all help to build the foundations and create the memories of this all-too-short stage. Should we be looking to cut it even shorter by restriction and financial constraint? 

It is, like many these days, a controversial subject. One that, even if discovered at length, will always divide opinion. There is a very fine between treating children and over-indulging them. Of teaching them the value of money and taking away the sheer and unmatched enjoyment that comes with a new toy. Although I am an advocate for buying second-hand, sometimes we (and especially, children) all need something ‘new’ to enjoy.

While a year of nothing new may work for an adult, perhaps this is because we are more adept at understanding the consequences, or we know that it won’t last forever. If we decide one day in April that we do want to buy a new skirt, we can. If we enforce this rule onto a child, we have unwittingly taken that decision out of their hands; and a year to a child can seem like an awfully long time.