My 12-year-old son bought AirPods with his own money, which I don’t have a problem with because it’s his money. What I do have a problem with is why he bought his AirPods.
He bought them because kids were making fun of him because his earbuds, like many of us, have wires. And get this, if you have wire earbuds that means you’re poor.
As a parent, I’m so frustrated, and not with my son or even with the kids making fun of him. I’m so frustrated with myself because I feel like I have failed to prepare him for this. I failed to talk to him about the pitfalls of the idol of money. And apparently, I have not done a good job of building up his self-esteem.
Honestly, raising a boy I never thought I would have to worry about self-esteem in regards to money, my daughters yes, but my son not so much. I just assumed with a boy, he would automatically have this macho, don’t care what people think attitude. Especially when his role model (my amazing husband) has this very attitude.
When Doug and I first got married I had this image of what my husband should look like. So for our very first Christmas, I went out and bought clothing for him from the Gap. I bought shirts, sweaters, khakis, and jeans. My husband was going to be a walking Gap billboard. A month after Christmas I saw all of the Gap clothes in the donation pile with the tags still on it. He looked at me and said, “I get my clothes at Walmart”. Yup, he doesn’t care what people think, and he wasn’t going to spend a ton of money on name brands.
However, my husband isn’t the only role model in our household. This is when I realized I have passed down the envious green-eyed monster to my son.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so much better than I used to be. But for a good portion of my life I was extremely envious of anyone who had better things than I did; home, cars, vacations, clothing, really anything. And to try to fit in I would take out new credit cards to buy better clothing because if I looked as good as or better than everyone else it would make me feel so much better.
Funny how that never really worked. I still felt bad and was getting myself into more and more debt all because I was worried about what other people thought of me.
Now, the problem was facing me again: What am I going to do for my son?
I need to remind him daily of the value he brings to our family, to his friends and it has nothing to do with AirPods, appearance or money. It’s because he is kind and is willing to help anyone. It’s because he is generous, and looks for ways to bless his friends. It is because he’s hardworking and strong and courageous. He is smart and a gifted athlete. He is all of these things and so much more because that is who God created him to be. And that right there is the kicker. Torin needs to know he is a valued son of the most high God.
But how do we get a soon-to-be teenager to understand what that means with culture constantly telling him you’re not good enough because you don’t have the right clothes, gadgets, shoes, or even hair?
Well, it’s up to Doug and I. We are the ones who have to tell him his worth every single day and we have to make it a priority. I can share my struggles of getting caught up in consumerism and how it never brought me the happiness I expected. Or maybe it’s just listening to him more often about what he’s facing with his friends or kids at school, and helping him learn to hear from God instead of his friends. Maybe we can show him what that looks like in a way that doesn’t just override peer pressure this time but trains him to hear God first next time too. But the most important thing is we start today.
For the rest of Torin’s life, he will see commercials and/or ads telling him money can buy happiness. It’s a lie that many people believe and one I believed myself. It’s a lie I have to combat against every day, and one I have to fight tooth and nail for Torin. Our value has nothing to do with money, it comes solely from the God who made us and calls us worthy.
What jumps out to you most about Kacie’s story?
What is your family’s philosophy about spending and keeping up with cultural messages to constantly upgrade, buy better, buy more? Try to articulate it.
Journal or share how it’s working for you. Assess it by three factors:
- Practically: Is it working in your budget or creating stress?
- Internally: What’s the impact on your emotions, self-esteem, and anxiety level?
- Spiritually: Is the message you’re sending is one that syncs with God? Or if you don’t believe in God, is it a message you’re comfortable promoting in your kids?
If you feel dissonant or have a pain point in one of those, you’re normal, but it can get better. The pressure to have more is a major issue that leads to tons of stress. Whether you’ve ever talked to God before or not, take a second to listen for what he has to say on it. Share it with someone, and choose one small way you can begin to change it for your family this week.
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