Daddy's Coming Honey!

Some Gold, Some Frankincense, and some Mhyrr—that’s it!

Some Gold, Some Frankincense, and some Mhyrr—that’s it!

Heard a Dave Ramsey statistic the other day. The number of people who declared bankruptcy this year is roughly the same as the number of people who got a bachelor’s degree.

I’d like to direct your attention toward another blog post I read recently, courtesy of Neil Burnett.

It’s that time of year again where we buy lots of stuff for people to prove that we love them in the context of our corporate culture. And that means buying things for little ones. This year it will mostly be useful things—stroller, diapers, machines that suck the milk out of your teat and then pasteurize it, sterilize it, solidify it, re-liquidate it, churn it, and then pump it into a bottle, where it is later heated for consumption. Beginning next year well-meaning friends and family will try to flood our child with playthings. I push a warning: Don’t overdo it.

Well, I’d like to follow along the lines of the previously mentioned blog, because it greatly reflects my personal view on spoiling children (or not spoiling children). If you didn’t bother to click the link, here’s the run-down.

Fewer toys for children. Also, be toy conscientious. I’m going to get preachy and condescending now. You ready? Let’s elaborate on the points the blogger, Joshua Becker, brings up:

“Too many toys prevent kids from fully developing their gift of imagination.”
Toys to stimulate imagination. The more things I am aware of, the more I have in my mental reservoir, right? Generally, yes, a diversity of interactive objects and atmospheres are good for children. Two things, however: 1) There are ways other than toys you can provide a diversity of stimulation (taking them places, letting them interact with things that may not actually be toys, like egg cartons) 2) Too many toys, and the child ends up relying on toys for stimulation and imagination. If my child is not given time to become bored with the pre-manufactured toys at his/her disposal, my child will not learn to create his/her own world of things.

“When too many toys are introduced into a child’s life, their attention span will begin to suffer. A child will rarely learn to fully appreciate the toy in front of them when there are countless options still remaining on the shelf behind them.”
This one is self-explanatory. I don’t want my child to feel like they’re on a toy assembly line: play-bored-toss. play-bored-toss. play-bored-toss.

“Children with fewer toys learn how to develop interpersonal relationships with other kids and adults.”
That’s right. It is difficult for middle class parents not to raise their child these days as a screen baby—being raised from day one to expect much of their life to be spent with a screen in their face. It makes it easy to keep them occupied. I spend too much time around a screen as it is myself. I want our children to be able to communicate to other children, and to prefer to face-to-face. None of this “the world is just becoming more techno-communicative and you have to adapt” garbage. I want them to be rebels in such a world.

“When kids have too many toys, they will naturally take less care of them.”
“Hey Joey, where’s that toy you were looking for?” “Underneath my mountain of other toys somewhere. Oh well. I’ll get another one before I know it.” I want my child to really hurt when a toy is broken or lost. I want them to feel it. Yeah, what a horrible parent I am, that I don’t want my child to grow up to be a careless slob, or a hoarder, or an ungrateful pig. Chastize me now. Years later you will bow at my feet and beg me to tell you the secret to why your child doesn’t love you any more. And I’ll whisper, “no.”

“Fewer toys allows your children to love books, music, coloring, and painting.”
Yep, these days its all about navigating through predetermined worlds constructed by the manufacturer. I see some recent changes, but I don’t know where they’ll go. There are new building toys that are fascinating. But seriously, what do kids play more of, Legos or Lego video games? In which are you really building? I know video games improve motor skills, but so does painting.

“Fewer toys causes children to become resourceful by solving problems with only the materials at hand.”
I would like as long as possible for my child to be able to walk into their room and see all the toys they have visible and measurable within a moment. It’s like being a survivalist learning what to do with a knife, a tarp, and a water bottle. Having less to work with prepares you to do more work. Start early.

This next one I’ll just quote directly:

“Kids argue with each other less. This may seem counter-intuitive. Many parents believe that more toys will result in less fighting because there are more options available. However, the opposite is true far too often. Siblings argue about toys. And every time we introduce a new toy into the relationship, we give them another reason to establish their “territory” among the others. On the other hand, siblings with fewer toys are forced to share, collaborate, and work together.”

“Children who have too many toys give up too quickly.”
I have a playstation. When I download a free game demo, I quit playing immediately when I come across a difficult problem or get the slightest bored. Why? It’s free, I don’t care, and there are plenty of these games out there. But when I go and buy one, which I rarely do compared to most gamers, who spend half their paycheck, I play that thing up and down and sometimes twice, exploring as much as I can.

“Kids who get everything they want believe they can have everything they want.”
Any parent who wanted to spoil their child because they’re a “princess” is a parent who didn’t love their child.
I’m using hyperbole here, but we shouldn’t be competing with anybody. If your kid comes home and tells them their friend Kenny got a brand new DS with three games and it wasn’t even their birthday or anything, tell them straight up their friend Kenny is spoiled and God doesn’t like it when we’re spoiled. And if Kenny’s parents come to you and say “don’t you tell your kid that my kid is spoiled,” you say to them, “am I your enemy because I tell you the truth?” Then show them a picture of one of those kids from Haiti that has nothing. If that doesn’t shut their mouth, it’s time to say goodbye to playtime with Kenny.

“Children who do not have a basement full of toys are more apt to play outside and develop a deep appreciation for nature.”
Yes, I did spend too much time playing video games as a kid. But despite that, I knew every inch of the maple tree in our front yard. It was a castle, and I was the squirrel king. And if you ask my parents, I was more fun to be around after climbing that tree than I was after playing Mario.

“Kids who have been raised to think the answer to their desires can be bought with money have believed the same lie as their parents.”
Yep. They will grow up to be like you, one way or another, whether out of admiration or spite. It’s a curse. So at least make it a good curse. Live minimally yourself and your child will likely follow in those steps.

“Fewer toys results in a less-cluttered, cleaner, healthier home.”
Well, its okay to have a mess, just make it a small one.

Here are some other reasons for adopting this minimal lifestyle:

Do you really want to be the grandparents or uncles or aunts who are expected to bring a present every time they visit? What are you? A present-bearer?

If you don’t train your child to give up a toy or money for a toy or something to a child who needs more, how can you expect them to be a truly loving Christian in the future?

Are you not convinced that less is more?

Do you want your child to worship the toy store?

Do you want your child to grow up treating people like property?

Do you love your child?

Please, avoid at all costs the toys that make the same high-pitched little noises over and over again. And absolutely no Alvin and the Chipmunks whatsoever. Look, if you have grandchildren or neices or nephews, tell the parents what you plan on getting. They have to deal with it, and their child will be shaped by it. Consult the parents first.

Also, try to avoid the huge logo license toys, though its not a crime for you to toss these in. I want my child, for instance, to know that Disney did not invent the fairy tale.

Look, people. If you’re really into this gift thing at Christmas try to make it more useful and get stuff for people who need stuff. If you have a heart you’ll actually love going to the store to buy an easy bake oven for a kid who has hardly nothing.

Your friendly neighborhood grinch.


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