Is materialism and the quest for more, robbing you of family?
At first glance you may assume ‘no’ and stop reading, but you may be moved to do some soul searching as you realize how North American culture has wooed us all into it’s materialistic paradigm.
What is your vision of family? What’s important to you? Does your vision of family include the perfect home in the perfect suburb, as did mine?Most couples, after getting married, set goals and priorities. Usually, but not always, they go something like this; travel a bit, buy a new car or two, secure a higher paying job, purchase the house with at least three bedrooms, double car garage, in an upscale neighbourhood in the suburbs, then if there is enough money, have children.
And so they set out on this quest to accumulate the things that they think matter, waiting until the time is perfect to have children; until they can afford the two car payments, the mortgage, all the toys that their children will ‘need’, like “Play Station” etc, and the activities/sports that they ‘need’ to play. Sadly, that perfect time never seems to come.
There always seems to be other things to buy or fix that suck up the financial cushion they’re trying to establish; the landscaping around the house, the windows that need replacing, the exhaust on the car that needs fixing, and then there’s that trip that they’ve been wanting to go on.
Priorities fade and become confused and time marches on. Stress and anxiety rise.
Unfortunately, sometimes, having children gets put off until later, when it’s actually much harder to conceive.
My husband and I started trying to have children about four years into our marriage, when we lived in a home and neighbourhood I did not like at all. I did not want to raise a child with the kind of influence I felt he/she would have there. In fact, I had made a promise to myself that I would not raise my children there. My internal vision of family did not fit where we were geographically and I later discovered the power of my promise when I could not seem to conceive.
So, like a lot of couples, we moved. We bought a much nicer home with four bedrooms and a double car garage in a much nicer area, but with the burden of the mortgage, we required two incomes to maintain it and I thought I’d be fine with that. It seemed to be what everyone was doing; it was normal for both parents to work out of the home. That was the status quo, so it must be right. Right?I loved our new home and felt very settled there; like we were where we needed to be to raise children. We purchased a ‘new to us’ car that was much better than the one we had. It was reliable and wouldn’t leave us stranded on the highway. Everything was falling into place, everything was family friendly; at least according to my idea of what family needed to be, and I finally became pregnant.
We had our first child and after my six month maternity leave from work, I reeled with regret about having to leave my baby with a total stranger for day care. It just didn’t seem right to me. I very quickly had different priorities.
I left my job and attempted to do home day care but unfortunately that did not work out. I went back to my job part time when I found a lovely Christian woman to take our daughter but unfortunately we had accumulated some debt we had to deal with. So, a year after our daughter was born, we sold our big beautiful house.
We lived with relatives for about 6 months, rented a condo for another 6 months, then rented a home for another year and in the mean time we had another child. I realized that our little family was thriving quite well without the big, beautiful house and the big, fat mortgage.
My husband then found a new job in a smaller town three hours west of Toronto and we were able to live much more simply and slow paced, out of the big city. The best decision we’ve ever made was to move there. We rented a small home, for about four years before we decided to finally purchase again; but this time, we bought within our means.
We have owned our own home ever since and I have enjoyed being home with the children for most of their young lives, raising them in a small town.
We have resisted buying the newest and greatest gaming systems when they come out and we have not gone crazy getting our children involved in activities and sports outside of school. Our oldest son, who is now 16, played baseball for about 7 or 8 straight summers and then played football one season for the city house league. He then moved to playing football at his high school.
The kids have never been involved with Boy Scouts or anything like that. They have participated in and enjoyed youth group at church instead, which for the most part is free, but we have sent them on retreat weekends when we could manage it.
We have not had cable television or satellite in our home for over seven years.
We have only been to Disney World once and that was before our two youngest were born. We go on other vacations periodically and the boys go to a cottage with their aunt every summer which I am very grateful for and they absolutely love!
Are my kids happy? Yes. Are they well adjusted? Yes. Very.
The morale of the story is; children do not need all the stuff that the world throws at them, to be happy. They do not need an IPod Touch or an IPad or the newest gaming system.
What they do need is love, attention, respect, grace, family, friends and the necessities of life; clothing, shelter and food. And it’s amazing how much fun one can have simply enjoying the great outdoors; playing tag, hide and seek, throwing or kicking a ball around. Do the simple things of life that we, and maybe you, enjoyed as children; playing board games, exploring the creek and catching tadpoles.
Society has gone so far away from this simplicity and I believe that many couples put off having children because society has convinced them that they need to keep up with the Jones’ first. Their time, energy and resources is first poured into the outward material things that really, in light of eternity, don’t matter at all. It will all one day rust, waste and burn away.
Instead of storing up treasure in heaven, we attempt to store up temporary treasures here on earth.
Don’t be fooled and robbed by this materialistic and consuming mind set. Don’t believe the lies dictated by the marketing schemes of the day. You don’t need to reach a certain standard of living to be successful as a parent and to make your children happy.
Adjust your vision for family, make it a Godly vision and one within your means. Strip away those worldly, unnecessary things and be content with simple.
You do have choices how you will raise your family when they come along. Make your choices wisely and intentionally. Don’t simply be swept along with the current of society; doing things like the rest of the world. Decide what’s really important to you and then follow that lead. You may need to make some adjustments in your standard of living, but for something as important as family and relationships, it will be worth the sacrifice.
De-clutter your lives, adjust your vision, get rid of the sin and idolatry that so easily entangles, get back to simple and get back to really, truly loving each other.