Dear Parents, Let it Go

There are problems.

And then THERE ARE FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.

Like these real comments left this week on Disney’s Facebook page by irate mothers who can’t find Frozen merchandise for their children (source):

I have been staying up late every night checking the site. I didn’t think the site would refresh during the day. SO irritated! My girl has been waiting for a classic Elsa doll since Christmas. She can’t understand why Santa didn’t get her one since it was what she wanted most. Now she is hoping that the Easter Bunny will put one in her basket. She has been so patient. I really think this might be what stops her believing in Santa and the Easter Bunny. I can’t afford to spend over $100 on eBay for a $16 doll. This whole situation makes me so sad and angry. Thank you Disney for killing the magic for my 6 year old.”

And there’s this gem:

WHAT IN GOD’S NAME IS THE HOLD UP, DISNEY? ARE YOU STAFFED ENTIRELY BY SOULLESS. DREAM-CRUSHING MONSTERS??[...]UGH. I AM FURIOUS. HENCE ALL THESE CAPITAL LETTERS. [...] UNACCEPTABLE, DISNEY. YOU’RE LITERALLY RUINING LIVES WITH YOUR EVIL WAYS. FOR SHAME.

These are just a couple of the hundreds of complaints against the mouse-magic-makers. And parents are in crazy bidding wars on ebay trying to buy $150 deluxe character dresses for over $1000.00 and $30 plastic dolls for $300.

Not to mention the speculation about how Disney is meeting this demand in some factory in another country…

So, this is what it’s come to, huh? Blaming a huge money-making empire for ruining Jesus’ birthday and His Resurrection because we can’t give our kids more stuff?

Y’all.

This is the culture we live in–we are waisting time and money on nothing. That doll or costume or whatever it is we chase and pursue and spend so much of our attention on won’t last. It’s embarrassing.

In an effort to create a magical childhood, we are forgetting what our kids really need: an intentional one. This isn’t about making our kids happy. That’s not even our job.

This is about the competition to keep up and the guilt that drives us to think that more stuff will make our kids happy. This is about winning some game that’s not worth playing. This is about scoring the latest fad or being the highest bidder that might fill some void in us.

I know most of you are probably like me and would never pay outlandish prices for the latest must-have thing. My 7 year old got some Frozen merchandise for her December birthday.

By the way, they are now for sale.

We can let them go… Kidding.

I get it. I really do—this urge to give our kids what they really want or what we really want for them.  But what price will we pay? How far will we go to create “happy” kids.

Because this isn’t just about stuff. It’s about making disposable things more important than they are.

How often do we freak out over the mess on the kitchen floor or try to control our children (impossible, ask me how I know) or waste hours on trivial things that are temporary.

Seriously, let’s remember what really matters–

And let the other stuff go.


Comments

  1. 1

    Lisa says

    Holy cow!!! A-to the-men!!! Can we meet and be best friends? ;) seriously, I love everything you write! You help me tk feel like I’m moving in the right direction with my kids. Sometimes, it’s lonely being the mother who doesn’t throw the GIANT birthday parties, or buy every little thing that happens to be popular this week for my children. We are trying hard to teach them to serve and love and be happy with what they have. It’s hard, but I know it’s worth it. So, thank you! Thank you for saying what I’m feeling!

      • 1.1.1

        says

        Yes! I feel the same way! My child is only 2 (and we adopted her at 18 months) and I already feel mom guilt. Have to be very careful on Pinterest so as not to fuel that problem.

    • 1.2

      Steph says

      Used to work at a party supply company—none of us could ever figure out WHY people would spend $600 for throwaway party favors for a 2-year-old’s birthday! Sometimes one item would be backordered (say, a bookmark) and we would get an absolutely livid mother calling and telling us how we ruined her 2-year-old’s birthday. Worshipping at the altar of materialism!

    • 1.3

      Sonia says

      My daughter is now 6 years old and we have never had a birthday party! I shop at yard sales. This year, I have bought her a few toys from the store because she loves my little pony. Even then I begin to feel bad for paying full price as things are so expensive at the stores. I’m a single mom who works part time and do not get much support from her dad. Therefore, I’m pretty cheap! LOL.

  2. 2

    says

    I put a stop to the stuff last year. My son, then three, had a little friend of the same age. I let his mom convince to go on a Target trip with our boys and it turned into a nightmare. We walked by the toy aisle and her child immediately started asking for a toy. Mine asked too and I gave him the answer I always give him, “No.” I’m terrible, I know. I guess she tried to follow suit but her child was clearly not used it and erupted! Screaming and sobbing for the entire trip. And what did she do in return? Rushed him back to the toy aisle and appeased him with whatever he wanted. Yikes. [Totally unrelated, we don't play anymore.]

    I think things like this just teach our children that disrespect leads to appeasement and it may even be safe to say these “adults” commenting on Disney were raised in that manner. Throw a fit, scream and tear down the other person and you may just get what you want.

    If I’ve learned anything as a parent, there are these items our kids “must have” and as soon as they unwrap that box, they find something new to want. It’s insane to try to give you’re child everything, insanity.

  3. 5

    Sara K. says

    They were talking about this on our local Christian radio station this morning. Even my 8 year old daughter (who loves Frozen) couldn’t understand this craziness over a doll or a dress-up dress! There are much more worthwhile things to do with our time and our money!

  4. 6

    Heather In Michigan says

    Remember Parachute pants back in the ’80′s! I wanted. I waited. My mom finally bought a pair for me after they went on clearance… and were out of style!!!

    I lived. So will my kids.

  5. 7

    Adrienne says

    *Round of applause* I’m only 26, with a 4 soon to be 5 year old, and I can tell you right now that I’m the “mean mom” because I don’t give into my child’s every whim. Parents today, especially younger ones, would rather indulge their children to get good behavior than put up with a temper tantrum and crying over something they’re going to forget about 5 minutes after they’re done with their fit. I grew up in a single parent home and my mom could barely afford to give us what little we got at Christmas and Easter. Now with my son, yes, she does get him a lot, but is on the same page with me. Maybe it’s easier for me to raise him this way because I was. Kids need to learn life is full of disappointments and that Christmas and Easter are about Christ. Not gifts.

  6. 9

    Lacey says

    This made me laugh b/c we were in the Disney store last weekend and they had nothing left. I could hear murmurs from other moms how they couldn’t believe they were not restocking it. When I was there in January there were tons and tons of items and I wish I had bought it all then! I would be rich now selling this junk on ebay!

  7. 10

    cheryl says

    Maybe you could make some serious money off your daughter’s Frozen stuff???? Seriously though this mentality of getting kids everything they want is way out of control

  8. 11

    says

    Not to the point of throwing a childish online rant, but in a way, I do get it. Because a lot of times, it isn’t about spoiling a child – it’s about guilt. Last month, I went to a work conference at Disney World. My kids stayed behind with their dad and grandma. My daughter sent me with a wish list – an Elsa t-shirt, or a night gown, and a plush Elsa doll. The night before I left (we’re a military family, so usually Daddy is leaving and not me), my daughter melted down. She’s 5, and for the first time in a long time, I had to hold her as she cried herself to sleep. Needless to say, I REALLY wanted to find the things on that list. I only found a t-shirt, and not until the very last minute. I honestly thought I might be walking home empty-handed, and I prepared her for that in my last phone call home. (side note: she was more excited about me coming home than what I brought her, so I don’t feel like a completely terrible parent) I was desperate to give her what she wanted, because I felt guilty. Guilty for being at Disney World without her. Guilty for leaving her at all. Anyway, all that to say, sometimes, we don’t know the whole story. Maybe these parents aren’t trying to create materialistic brats. Maybe their own hearts need a little healing.

    • 11.1

      Laura says

      I can definitely see your side of this. I don’t understand the moms ranting on the Disney website.
      P.S. Thank y’all for your service to our country! I appreciate the sacrifices your whole family makes

    • 11.2

      Christina M says

      “Maybe their own hearts need a little healing.”

      Oh, I see such wisdom in this! Many hurts, many wounds, emptiness we are trying to fill… Not just in our kids, but in our own hearts.

      • 11.2.1

        Heather S. says

        Isn’t that the truth? I think all the ranting DOES sound crazy….but it also makes me wonder, what kind of emptiness in our souls are we trying to fill with stuff? How much of this craziness is driven by guilt? And don’t we all know that guilt is of the devil? Conviction is of the Lord – and I’m pretty certain Jesus never laid it on a parent’s heart to buy their child’s love.

    • 11.3

      Sonia says

      What a beautiful perspective! So glad you were able to come home to your 5 year old daughter (and not empty handed)! God bless you.

  9. 14

    Eleanor says

    I wish things got easier as they got older. Unfortunately, we have an 18 year old who is only now getting his driver’s license because of how expensive insurance is for a teenager. Thankfully he has handled it with grace. I only pray that his younger siblings handle it as well.

    • 14.1

      Mom of six says

      We too had a son who had wait until he was 18 to get his driver’s license. This was the kid who learned to change the oil when he was about 11 in order to be able to drive the car a 1/2 mile down the road. (the reward :) ) Why did he have to wait? Because we couldn’t afford the insurance for a teen driver when his dad went to seminary to become a pastor. He also handled it well and bought his own car and own insurance when he was 19.

  10. 15

    Laura says

    We went to Disneyworld for Spring Break with our older daughters. Great time, btw! The line to meet Frozen characters, Elsa & Anna, was 3 1/2 hrs. It was 5 hrs. that morning. We didn’t meet them. My children have been taught they don’t get what they want all the time. That’s life! I don’t reward for tantrums. I don’t mind leaving a store if my children can’t behave. Plus, they have enough “stuff” that they don’t need the newest thing.

  11. 16

    Lori F. says

    Yikes, I sure needed this today! Half of our hometown, it seems, has relocated to Disney World this week with the high school band. Several (most) of our friends have gone along on the trip and my kids are the ones left behind. I have to admit being the grumpy mom who feels the unfairness of our family never having been to Disney together. But you’ve shown me what is important and it ain’t The Mouse.

    Our 13 year old will be baptized and confirmed in a few weeks after going through a 2 year Faith Inkubators program. We have been with him every step of the way and try to reinforce the lessons he is learning. Our 10 year old is close behind, watching every step we make with his brother. We make sure that we parent with the Lord’s words in our heart. But most days we’re on our knees, just trying to get this right.

  12. 18

    says

    Was just reading the book of Ecclessiates and how it translates “vanity,” “meaningless,” “worthless” things that describe various aspects of our lives. To think how it is all fleeting! Yes, we want to make our kids happy but I agree that we often “chase the wind!” May we find what is good in the days of our lives…seeking wisdom from our Creator!

  13. 19

    Ashley says

    A couple of summers ago we went on vacation to visit my father -in- law. While there we visited an aquarium, my then 8 year old daughter loves animals. In the gift shop that you are spit out into were many toys but my daughter saw a stuffed seal she really loved. She never asked for it, but looked at the price tag for the 12″ plush that did nothing and saw it was $20, she then said “oh well we’re not buying this because that price is ridiculous. I was so proud of her. I was so happy to see that our discussions about the value of things and wisely spending had gotten through.

  14. 20

    says

    It was just yesterday I was searching for the Frozen Dolls in our town and was lucky to find two left at a Fred Myer. No where else had had these for months so I considered myself very lucky. They were only $16.00 a piece. I put them in my basket and just sat there thinking for the longest time. Two dolls and three little girls do not work. I started to get angry that there wasnt the boy or the snowman or at least the riendeer for sale to go with them. Then I was feeling very sad because I knew just two dolls would never work. The fighting that would ensue would be unbearable.
    I then took a step back and realized that they hadn’t once even asked me for the dolls. It was my want for them, my feelings, my desires. They would be just fine without them and so would I. I am pretty sure kids would be just fine without most of the stuff they have. It’s the parents who might not. Myself included.

  15. 23

    Jayme Jeane says

    I just shared this on Facebook and wrote this to go along with it: Love this. The ‘stuff’ isn’t important, it’s what we are teaching our children that is most important. Our job is to help them build character and be honest, have integrity, to be kind and a the list goes on and on. It is NOT our job to make sure they are constantly entertained and have the latest toys, electronics, etc. We are only setting them up to fail as they grow up and enter the real world.
    I read your blog every single time you post one. You and I are on the same paths in a way and I appreciate your honesty and integrity in this tough world we live in!

  16. 25

    says

    Thank you! Good grief…it can be tricky sometimes to not get caught up in all the hooplah. I’ll even catch myself being a little nutty like this and then I’m like, “oh wait a minute…this is flipping ridiculous!” We could all stand for a little more common sense and simplicity in our lives :)

  17. 26

    says

    My oldest is 5. He knows, because I’ve told him, that if we spend $30 on a toy, it means we don’t eat this week–and that’s the truth. There’s a magic in having your physical needs met that outweighs the magic of children believing mythology. And it makes the times that we can afford a $1 toy all the sweeter.

  18. 27

    Carol D says

    I wish these “buy everything they want” parents could see the rotten fruit of their actions. I have seen first-hand what happens in this scenario. The children do not take care of anything that they do have because they have too much. They want and want and want and are bored within 10-15 minutes. They can’t clean up their room because there’s not enough storage to put everything away. It is all such a waste.

  19. 30

    Jessica says

    Thank you…In this crazy one-upping, ultra competitive world, it refreshing to see that others think it’s overboard too and that I am NOT the crazy one.

  20. 31

    nancy lee says

    you are so on! I wish I had been there earlier with my kids…I WAS that mom. My kiddos are now 12 and 14, and I am more sane. Its a sad sad comment on our society, but I think some of us are seeing more clearly and looking for more realism and simplicity.

  21. 32

    says

    My mom was down in Florida on vacation and thought she would have better luck finding Frozen costume dresses there – our shelves have never been stocked up here it seems. She went into a store, found some merchandise from the movie: but not the dolls or the dresses. She bought something else and mentioned it to the cashier – how hard they were to find, and the cashier said this: “oh, we have to keep that stuff in the back now. Moms were ripping boxes and dresses by fighting over them. If you want to see, someone has to take you back”
    Colour my mom stunned. She declined to “go back under escort”
    She told me, thinking I’d be disappointed. nope – good call mom. My girls can wait, or just learn to live without them. I’m not supporting that kind of madness.

  22. 33

    Renee says

    Okay, this post totally cracked me up because I am waiting for the Elsa doll! To be clear, I am not fuming and I am not emailing Disney. However my niece did ask me for it for her 5th birthday in January and I am still looking for it. I check Amazon periodically but I am not obsessed and it is not ruining my life (or hers).
    Anyway, I could not agree with you more. We get so laser focused on…nothing…look up…look around…we are made for so much more!

  23. 34

    Julie says

    I agree, that parents need to remember that their job is to give their children what they need, not what they want. If they always get what they want, they’ll get a rude shock once they’re adults and realise that the world doesn’t revolve around them. And how is not getting a certain toy for Christmas going to ruin it? If the children would only be happy if they get EVERYTHING on their wish list, those kids have some serious issues.

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