One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, 'How was the trip?'
It was great, Dad.'
'Did you see how poor people live?' the father asked.
'Oh yeah,' said the son.
'So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?' asked the father.
The son answered:
'I saw that we have one dog and they had four.
We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.
We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have t he stars at night.
Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.
We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.
We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.
We buy our food, but they grow theirs.
We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.'
The boy's father was speechless.
Then his son added, 'Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.'
While the above fable may be fictitious, it does point to just how easily we can lose our path, being consumed by what we are supposed to earn, how we are supposed to earn it, and how we are supposed to spend it- all in the name of image consciousness and appearing 'cool'. As a recently married man I am trying to understand what it takes to fulfill the role of being a 'good husband'. I feel very fortunate that I had neither the means nor the insecurity to go for 'the ring' as it was displayed when I was ring shopping- a 5.8 carat, half a million dollar 'gem'.
If any of us were to see that monstrosity on a woman's finger- would we be speechless over how much he must love her- or would we assume she is a gold-diggger married to someone so shallow, all he can provide is a paycheck?
Don't get duped into the material game any more than you can help... spending more on 'better' brands does not make you cooler, it just proves we as a society are putty in the hands of the marketing gurus; that the many exist to feed the few.
Before one more impish parent caves and buys a Mercedes for a spoiled child on their 'sweet sixteen', STOP. Ask yourselves what this action is doing to enable their bratty behaviour, and then think what could I have done differently as a parent to preserve the perspective demonstrated by the boy in the fable above.
I am in no way, shape, or form saying parenting is easy... far from. What I am saying is that because parenting is such an important role- we can't afford to take the easy way out at the risk of being unpopular with our kids. That's not our job. Our job is to provide for them guide them, and then release them into the world armed as best as we can for the uncertainty and excitement (as well as dangers) out there in the world.
Do we serve that purpose best by taking them to that farm, or just buying the Mercedes?