Mom Refuses to Buy Son Anything for a Whole Year

Rant 101

kid with stickers
Yup, it's STUFF!
Am I the only one who thinks the backlash against consumerist kids has jumped the shark? I get it: kids do not need one million and one toys to be happy! But now we have a mom who is going on record to say that she will not buy her son a single thing in 2013.

No new toys. No new clothes. Not even a haircut!

Thrifty mama Hattie Garlick is going to require her boy make do with hand-me-downs, and he'll only get to eat what Mom and Dad are eating. Oh, and no costly experiences for this kiddo. No sirree bob, he's going to have everything done at home in "activities concocted at home instead of at soft-play centres."

Ah yes, because anything purchased or done outside of the home is obviously part and parcel of being a sheep herded along the consumerist path. Buy a kid a toy, and you're turning them into a materialist! It couldn't be, perhaps, that those of us who spend for our kids want to foster their specific interests and likes, to let them know that although they are small, they too are special.

Ironically, Garlick tells of how this grand plan to cut out "kiddy consumerism" came to be: she bought her son a water pistol which he happened to love.

The toy gun was simple and cheap. But still, it was purchased, wasn't it? And yet, under Garlick's new plan, she won't be able to give her son such a simple joy.

I look around my daughter's playroom, and I too want to throw up my hands at the sheer gluttony. She doesn't need all those LEGOs or My Little Ponys! I'm forever giving my husband the evil eye for indulging her with little gifts. And I'll even admit to a secret relief when the puppy has destroyed this or that because it's one less "thing" we need to hold onto.

There I agree with Garlick. Kids don't need so much stuff!

Where I don't agree is in the decision to cut back on that "stuff" to the point where kids are being sent a message not about the evils of consumerism -- which you'll have to admit is pretty vague and nebulous and way over a kid's head -- but that their likes, dislikes, interests are not as important as their parents. 

We show our kids love by letting them know that they count. And while I wouldn't suggest "buying" a kid's love per se, buying them things is certainly a form of love -- it shows a child that we care enough to let them explore their own loves and desires.

Kids don't need a million toys. But there's nothing wrong with a few select toys that they really enjoy, no reason they shouldn't get to pick out a few books that they can read over and over and over again instead of bidding them bye bye on library return day. Presents purchased are presents they can return to.

In that playroom are things that my daughter adores, that she plays with, that she treasures. And in the way that I expect her to respect "my things," I have to respect hers too. There are the art supplies that bring out her creativity and the stuffed animals that she cuddles close at night. There are the books she pages through night after night.

It's just stuff. But it's HER stuff, and she deserves it ... just as much as I deserve that new pair of shoes.

Would you go on a buying strike like this mom or are you content shelling out for your kid?



Image by Jeanne Sager

toys, activities


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nonmember avatar Sondra

I do believe you are the one who is wrong here. First of all, your daughter doesn't deserve her stuff and you don't deserve that new pair of shoes. You saying that proves that you don't understand what this woman is doing. So does the fact that you -intentionally or not- are making her out to be some sort of bad mother over this. She's doing the right thing, she's not setting herself above her child, and she isn't telling him that he doesn't matter. Where are you even getting that from?
So she's telling her child he doesn't matter because, instead of buying a $50 toy he doesn't need, she's going to do a craft with him at home? Because she's going to foster his interests, but not take him to an amusement park? My mother cuts my brother's hair herself, she isn't setting herself above him just because she can't cut her own.

You have completely missed the point of this mom's decision. Maybe you should try doing this for yourself -not even for your daughter, for you. Take away all of your nice new things and see if you understand then.

jhslove jhslove

She's not saying that her kid has to go WITHOUT haircuts, clothes, etc. for a whole year. Rather, she's doing haircuts at home, doing clothing swaps, etc. And as far as the kid eating what the parents eat? That's healthier and IMO they should have been doing that all along. What she's doing is closer to the norm for a lot of kids, so I don't really understand why everyone's so shocked. Yes, there needs to be a happy medium, but I completely respect what she's doing. The consumerism that's taken over childhood has gotten completely out of hand, and it's become the expected norm for a shocking number of people. My BIL has four kids and supports six people on a teacher's salary (his wife stays home and homeschools the kids), and they get by although money is very tight. They don't have any luxuries, the kids wear hand-me-downs, etc. They're fed and happy, and they have two parents who love them. But you'd be amazed at the number of judgmental comments they deal with.

We very rarely buy our daughter new clothes (partially because we get tons of clothes from relatives) or toys. A lot of what we get for her is from swaps, consignment stores, etc. The money we save goes into things like her college fund. Maybe what she's doing is a little extreme, but I think that's the point of things like this--you stretch your limits and see what you can actually accomplish. I suspect that after the year is up, she'll come to some sort of happy medium.

Coles... Coles_mom

I grew up in a home like this and still have a lot of bitterness and resentment even as an adult. I was always embarrassed that my friends had nice, trendy clothes while I had homemade, hand-me-down stuff. I was humiliated over the mom haircuts and sad that I could NEVER brag about having the newest toys. I don't look back at my childhood with sweet and charming memories of being frugal. We spent ALL of our time doing stuff with our parents like cheap weekend projects. I then went back to school on Monday and heard friends talking about being at the theme park or the water park or the sucked! I never had one of the "cool" store-bought Halloween costumes. I had ones my mom sewed. My parents adored us (still do) and invested every second of their lives into being the type of mom from this article---- they wanted us to grow up appreciative and untouched by commercialism. All it accomplish was to cause me a nasty childhood in which I was bullied a great deal and am now an adult still fighting some of that inadequacy. I probably overcompensate too much with my kids...I won't let them wear ANY hand-me-downs and we spend most weekends hitting all the local fun stuff (and somehow have awesome memories). My oldest son is obsessed with Legos- he gets a lot.

nonmember avatar My turn

Couldn't she just scale back? Pick one or two activities. No toys except birthdays and Christmas (or whatever). Why must it be everything or nothing?

nonmember avatar amanda

I really think it's all about balance. But from my own childhood, my mom really, really curbed our purchasing as kids and said no to pretty much everything. The only time we were given new toys was Christmas and birthdays and new clothes at the beginning of the school year and this caused me to almost develop a hoarding complex... and greed! I spent the entire year drafting my Christmas list. Yes I learned to live without some of my wants but at a cost. It took me a majority of my twenties when I was responsible for deciding how to spend my own money that I realized that my stuff was NOT that "precious" and I could toss stuff and buy new if I decided I needed it later. So cutting this kid off from commercialism completely might create negative consequences where a more balance approach could achieve what this mom wants without mental health consequences.

poshkat poshkat

I completely agree with sondra

the4m... the4mutts

I see what shes trying to do here, and i have personally done slightly more moderate versions of this. No toys except christmas for 2 years in our house. Only bought clothes once a year, and half was from hand-me-down stores in our town.

Coles_mom- im sorry you were tormented, and had a bad experience with thrifty parents. My kids though, have never once been picked on for a "mom haircut" or not having the newest toy. Maybe its the area we live in, or maybe the parents around here are better than the parents of your peers were, but most kids around here like you for who you are.

And every kid or adult that has come into our home and seen the built in snake terrariums, the upcycled electrical spool book-cases, the hand painted (by me) murals on the walls... they're put off for about 5 minutes, until they realize that even though its different, its all well made, clean, colorful, FUN, and my kids get to brag "look what my mom did in my room last weeked!"

We thoroughly enjoy our more thrifty lifestyle, and wouldnt trade it for all the material things in the world.

nonmember avatar Amanda

I don't necessarily agree with all the points made in the blog post, but I definitely agree that something about this woman's goal (or maybe the way she talks about it) rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it seems sort of braggy and competitive. All I know is that parents should do what they want for their kids. I like buying my girls new clothes every now and then. I do it for myself, because I brings me joy. I like taking the time to choose nice, thoughtful gifts for them, whether they are from a consignment shop or brand new. Buying your kids stuff isn't evil and it doesn't mean you're buying into "kiddy consumerism" (whatever that is...). Have a budget, be thoughtful and purposeful in your spending, and you can feel a sense of satisfaction that comes from spending within your means.

MaryC... MaryCimino

We live like this SOMEWHAT. I don't know if it counts as a "mom haircut" when the mother is a beautician. My late brother used to make the kids clothes before his untimely death and to be honest, you couldn't tell they were home-made. He looked at today's trends and made his own. I'm learning how to sew so I can do this but I don't think it's working out lol. I buy a few trendy pieces and is teaching my daughter how to work that nice top with cheap jeans. I think that's the way to go, teach them to work with what you got, oh and I do try to take them to amusement parks and such when I can but I'm too much of a cheapskate to do it often. I admit it, I'm cheap :)

cassi... cassie_kellison

I could get on board with no more toys, but no haircuts? Not happening. I don't want a long haired boy, nor do I want a skin head because all I can do is shave the whole thing.

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