TV and cable commercials have a powerful impact on how we perceive the world and it is on what we perceive that we need to “survive” and “thrive.” The reality is that your children do not need most of the items advertised in commercials, newspapers and magazines. They need love, food, shelter, encouragement, boundaries, some clothing and some shoes. Nearly everything else is not a necessity. However, commercials send a very pervasive message to your children, such as:
- To be popular you must wear expensive designer clothing. This pressure increases as your child gets older, so start early teaching them some important lessons about quality and how to look “cool” without spending $125 on a pair of designer jeans. Christian parents owe it to their children to help them learn this lesson. Trust me, I know. I gave in to this pressure on occasion because of my fear that my children would be teased. As soon as this child had the ability to get a credit card, she maxed it out and regrets that to this day. That was a tough lesson for her and for me.
- New items are higher quality than gently used items. Are they really? Every time I shop at my local Goodwill shop, I find expensive designer items for a fraction of the cost – and they have no holes, stains or apparent wear and tear. So why do we feel the pressure to buy new when we can get what we want if we are patient? Plus, in the process, we teach our children to reuse, repurpose and recycle gently used items. We humans are stressing our planet to the point of global warming. Help your child understand these valuable concepts by shopping together at used stores to teach them how to reduce their carbon footprint.
- To be loved, I must look like one of the women in magazines, such as Glamour and Vogue. These and other magazines define beauty for our daughters. The models often starve themselves to be as thin as the photographers and brand advertisers want. Add to this that they always wear lots of makeup and the photos are altered to remove all imperfections! Your daughter’s self-esteem is at stake. Don’t allow her to start reading them when she is 8, 10, 13 or 15! Help her develop a sense of self separate from the influence of commercial or external definitions of beauty.