Living in a Material World
As I've written about briefly in recent posts, I had the pleasure of attending the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood's 6th Summit Conference this past weekend. It took a few days for me to digest what I heard and saw there - at least enough to write about it here.
Let me say that it was absolutely eye-opening and gut-wrenching. Hands down the best and most important conference I've been to in - well, probably forever. Only about 200 attendees packed the sold-out room as speaker after speaker gave us a picture of what is like to be a child today. By that I mean what our children are bombarded with in terms of blatant or coy advertising (with 'coy' definitely being a play on words) in company's attempts to grow loyal, lifelong consumers of our buy-buy-buy material culture. All in the name of making more money, and then yet more and more money.
I was so naive. I thought perhaps I was shielding my kids from this stuff by my little efforts to avoid commercial toys spun-off from movies. There is no shielding our kids, unless we raise them in a bubble or at the very least move to Sweden. The worst of it is the objectification that our culture creates - the idea that our kids are not people, real humans with feelings and a need to see good relationships modeled for them, but rather something to be bought and sold into the mighty American marketplace. Boys get taught about violence; girls get taught to be sexy.
Do I sound preachy? The amazing thing is that no one at the Summit did. I can't do the material justice. It was presented in a realistic, not dreamy, way. I met the most learned, warm and enthusiastic people there - all experts in their fields who don't do what they do to judge others but to alert us to realities and work for change. I felt honored to be among them - me, a little mom trying to learn more about this stuff. I came away changed myself.
So, you may wonder what this all has to do with equally shared parenting. I went there thinking the two weren't connected, but now I know better. The world that the CCFC envisions is one not run by materialism - it is one in which time is the new money, and where we're dedicated to the well-being of people rather than businesses (necessitating a completely new way of doing business). ESP is likewise focused on the well-being of people (parents, kids), even at the expense of the classic American dream. Time, for balanced lives and for our kids, is our greater treasure; money, achievements and things are not our primary goals.
In order to teach our children not to value what big businesses want them to value (the hottest toy, clothes and other status symbols), we have to model this for them. ESP is a great way to start.
p.s. A huge hug to Mom for introducing me to this conference. It was great to meet you! And wonderful to meet all of you too (and others I don't have links for)! Please keep in touch.