Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Materialistic Side of Us...

"I think I'm actually quite a materialistic person, I value what it takes to make a car or build a nice house. Money does change things, but how it changes people depends on how they react to it".  ~Roland Gift

There is definitely a fine line between appreciating what you own because of the material (the monetary value of it) and “standing”, “rank” or “status” that it can possibly give you, and simply appreciating it because it’s something you’ve wanted, worked for and desired for the quality of it and every dime, effort it took for you to acquire it…

When you learn…Teach –Maya Angelou

As adults, we’ve learned how to distinguish and separate the superficial from genuine, and the shallow from depth. As parents, it is our duty to raise and teach our children to appreciate all the “extras” (the things that go above and beyond their every day necessities), that we are able to provide them. We should teach them to be grateful for all that they receive but also explain that “things” do not and should not define them or their character… The best things in life are not things; they are relationships. They are conversations, and shared feelings amongst people.
I think my husband and I have done a good job thus far with our two kids. I’d like to think that they are not spoiled but I guess this can be a hard thing to measure and a non-absolute opinion, as it depends on who is looking in. We do our best to provide them with everything they need, while continuing to make sure that they are growing up to be considerate individuals. Along with teaching them the importance of simple words like “thank you” and “please”, we teach the importance of not judging or value themselves and others based on what they own but who they are; we are trying to teach them the value of money. My husband took it up a notch by finding ways for them to earn their own dollars and use their money to buy those expensive “things” that they desire and want.
Luckily we are put in situations that make us revisit how we are doing in our job as parents. It also gives me the opportunity to drive home to my kids the message of how unimportant material belongings are and to reiterate values and priorities we are trying to raise them with.

Coming back home from an outing to the Cheesecake Factory with my cousin, her husband and daughter, we sent all the kids out to walk Coco (their little dog) while the hubbies decided to keep the evening going and left us home with the kids. My cousin went upstairs to pack up their suitcases, as they were heading back to Miami the following morning. My son and daughter both started to pull on the front door (from opposite sides) and ultimately the door swung and slid over my son’s foot. He just happened to be wearing his new Gucci boots that he bought himself with his DJ money. He had not only scratched them, but left a white paint mark going across the toes.
My son lost it! While my cousin was downstairs trying to figure out how to fix the damage, I went upstairs so I could calm him down… He was crying and was so distraught by the fact “his only good shoes were damaged”. I listened to him tell me how much he loved me, through the tears, and how hard he tries to be good and how he didn’t understand why, why and why…
As a mom, my heart broke seeing him so sad, furious and upset. While I wished that at 11:30pm the Gucci store was still open (so I could run up there and buy him a replacement pair and make it better), I also knew that this wasn’t what I wanted him to learn from this situation. I hugged him really tight, told him to breathe deeply and heavily so he could calm down, and hear me out. After rocking him in my arms and whispering in his ear to “calm himself”, I told him “Son, I understand why you are upset, I understand that you love your boots and are proud of owning them, but baby, this is certainly not a problem for you to make yourself sick over. Accidents will happen, and you will not be able (and should not want to) hang on to things this bad. If mommy, daddy, your sister or anyone else you love gets hurt, than yes, this level of emotion is justified but over material possession… no baby, mommy is not okay with that. You are going to calm yourself down, walk back downstairs and hug your sister because she is upset knowing that she upset you. And, thank auntie who fixed your boot (at the time it was a little white lie but I had my fingers crossed).” We talked for a few more minutes, I kept him in my arms so he could let go of his anger, pain and sadness and when I was comfortable that he was okay, I preceded him back downstairs. I hoped that by me not making a big deal of the situation, he understood that even though we taught him to value anything money can buy, he can’t let it take over… walking that fine line again…

When you get…Give –Maya Angelou

Now on the other hand, you have my daughter. Through myself and her older cousins, she has learned to appreciate nice things but is oblivious of the value of them, unless she has bought it with her own money (she has “selective stinginess”; when it comes to her dollars, she is very tight fisted but when it’s someone else belongings, she is as generous as can be). Not too long ago, she decided to give away one of my Gucci bags to her godmother after finding out she didn’t own a brand name bag! But how can I be mad at her? According to her understanding, it’s only a bag… but just know I had to tweak this one!
In bringing this all full circle, we have to make sure that our children understand that as we all live under the same sky we don’t have the same horizon or the same opportunities; we need to remember that material things should be a reflection of your hard work and compensatory rewards of your good work, but certainly should never be a reflection of who you are. Following this attitude should make separating you from material belongings an easy process.

Enjoy everything you own to the fullest! Learn to appreciate the small gifts of life, the unexpected and expected favours, and understand that these things are all blessings for now, and are not everlasting like we are. The things you should and will end up cherishing and taking with you are PRICELESS.

What about you? Do you believe that not recognizing and rejecting materialistic attitude equals trusting idealistic behaviour? Or like me, you believe you can balance materialism and idealism by learning to appreciate the value of what's material but not let it consume you?
I would love to read your thoughts on the subject...

        Love always,


  1. Love this one. It tickles me but is great coming from a woman who's closet I used to (and if were there) still would shop in ;). Very well said! There is nothing wrong with having the finer things in life as long as we realize that they are just things.

    1. Thank you Autie for your comment, reading positive feedback to my thoughts means a lot and this more so because you know me. I like to believe that I "walk" my "talk"...
      Those "things" are here for you to enjoy when you decide to move back to us!

    2. As always you will have my love and support. Glad so many others can benifit as I do from your cander and wisdom. Keep doing what you do ;)!

  2. Great Topic!!! I grew up less "financially fortunate" than many of my friends I have now. I was always taught " Make sure you know the difference between wants and needs" This lesson got "cemented" when my Grandfather brought me to the porch to watch one of the neighbors get evicted by the sheriffs department. I used to be jealous of the kids because they had the "latest and greatest" I remember thinking that day "none of that stuff is paying the rent". Now that I am older, I try spend money on things that will last; not "Bling" (Truth is I can't afford it yet). To answer your question, Yes, I think you can achieve balance between the two. However i believe that if you didn't have it as a child and acquire the finer things in life at a later age you may more inclined to "over-appreciate" and give those things "Pedestal Status" I think you and your husband do a good job of NOT doing that- I wouldn't have guessed that your son would flip out over a damaged shoe- Your husband on the other hand... LOL

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I commend your grandfather for SHOWING you instead of TELLING you the importance of priorities and that what you perceive about one’s life isn’t always so! Being able to witness consequences resulting from careless behaviour speak louder than a thousand words!!!!
      The latter part of your comment made me laugh so hard as I realize that you must know me and my family very well and my curiosity is spiked as I can’t figure who this “anonymous” person is (I guess that’s the on objective!!!LOL)
      You right as far as my son goes, even I didn’t expect such reaction, I like to think it’s because he finally splurge with his “hard” earn money for something other than music equipment and got to wear them only a few time…who knows? But as far as my husband…LOL, I think I was given a dirty look the other day for stepping (by mistakes) on his toes; but one think I must say, brand name shoe or not with him it doesn’t matter…You will hear about it!

    2. Bonjour Rose, félicitations pour toutes tes pensées et réflecctions, continues à écrire! tu as de la chance d'avoir un bon mari et des merveilleux enfants!

    3. La chance que j'ai est d'avoir pu realiser la valeur de ceux qui compose ma ca c'est merveilleux!


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