In December, one of my favourite bloggers, Jen Gale, wrote a post for The Daily Mail about how she was refusing to buy her kids any new stuff for Christmas. Jen explained that instead of buying her children things they don’t really need, they would spend time together making handmade gifts and decorations. Personally, I think that’s a wonderful idea! I’m sure I’m not the only person that spent too much money in December and, now that I’m looking for ways to cut back in January, I could have done with a thriftier Christmas. And I’m not even a parent!
However, Jen’s anti-consumerism Christmas hasn’t been applauded by everyone. In a recent blog post, Jen explained that a number of people have asked her this one question: “But don’t you worry your kids will be bullied?”
So let me get this straight? In order for children to not get bullied, parents should have to buy them lots of stuff? That’s ridiculous! What about the parents out there who genuinely can’t afford to buy new toys for their kids? Should their children expect to be bullied to?
At the end of the day, if a child is being bullied for being different in some way, the problem does not lie with that child or their parents. The problem lies with the child doing the bullying and their parents. I’m not saying that the parents of bullies are bad parents, but it is THEY who have a responsibility to do something.
No one should have to change in order to avoid being bullied. Next we’ll be making 7-year-olds wear contact lenses and forcing 13-year-olds to get boob jobs – you know, so they don’t get bullied!
I guess it’s a type of victim blaming in a way. A child is being picked on and the first thing people do is blame the kid’s parents for daring to do things differently. Children need to be taught that being unique is amazing! They need to see their parents standing up for what they believe in. Unless, you know, you’re April Gaede* and you believe in white supremacy and encourage your music-loving twin daughters to pursue a career in Nazi pop. They definitely could have done without that. But anyway, I digress. Being different is normal and it should be embraced. We shouldn’t all be the same and children shouldn’t be bullied into conforming to other people’s expectations.
Besides, consumerism isn’t going to stop bullies anyway. When I was the first person in my school year to get an iPod, kids picked on me for not being cool enough to be the first to own an iPod! You can’t bloody win!
You don’t have to turn your back on traditional gift-giving in order to be a great parent, but I do think that what Jen Gale did is a fantastic way of teaching children about money and making them realise that there is more to life than spending. The key to happiness doesn’t lie in material things and kids need to see that no good can come from spending more than you have.
*I’ve been watching a lot of old Louis Theroux documentaries lately
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