Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The Entertainment Generation
Last Thursday I got a call from my neighbor telling me that her daughter was having a graduation party Saturday night and they had hired a DJ. She wanted to give me a heads up because she knows we have little ones and was worried the noise might disturb them. I really appreciated this, and told her not to worry. We could live through anything for one night.

We started talking about the party and what they had planned. Her husband rented a big tent for the back yard to put the DJ in ($900.00), the DJ was one of those big time DJ's from LA ($1,500) they were having the food catered (cost unknown) and expecting over 100 people.

Wow, I thought. What are they going to do when she gets married?

This lead me back to a conversation I had with my parents and a good friend a few months back.

They were worried that our children's generation was destined for disappointment and failure. They were calling our kids the "entertainment generation".

My kids have gone to Disneyland over 100 times. Up until a few years ago we had yearly passes. We could go whenever we wanted. Some Sunday afternoons we would tell the kids we were going and they would act disappointed. Do we have to? I really don't want to go today. I never would have said that when I was a kid. Then again, my family went once a year. Not 3 or 4 times a month.

It was about this time I started thinking that maybe I was ruining our kids.

By giving them so much I was ruining their experience of the simple pleasures in life.

When I was a kid birthday parties consisted of cake, ice cream, pin the tail on the donkey, maybe a pinata, and if your party was really cool some goody bags and maybe a clown.

Our kids have gone to Birthday parties that probably were as elaborate and cost as much as my wedding. Huge theme parties, with carnival atmospheres.

I didn't get a manicure and pedicure for the first time until I was in my 20's. My mom didn't get one until she was in her 70's. Yet the teenagers I run into today seem to get manicures weekly and Mom and Dad hand over the cash for this "must have" expense without question.

What is going to happen when our kids move out? Very few of them will be able to afford all of the "extras" that there parents have bestowed upon them on a weekly basis.

I am sure that all of these parent love their kids very much and want to make them happy. I want my kids to be happy too. However, I am a little worried.

Will they feel discontent with their lives? Will they ever feel satisfied? Will they know contentment and thankfulness for what they have. Are we robbing them of the personal satisfaction of working hard for something and then having the ability to buy it themselves?

I have been thinking and praying about this topic a lot lately. The Bible talks a lot about expectations for parents and how we should be raising our children.

Am I teaching my children to be givers instead of receivers? Am I correcting them as the Bible would have me do or am I giving in to their earthly desires?

The Bible is full of stories about children who didn't turn out very well because there parent's made sure they never wanted for anything.

Our oldest son wants a new baseball bat. I could go and buy it for him. I said no.

However, I did tell him that if he re stained the wooden play set in the backyard I would pay him a good wage. He could earn the money for his bat himself.

He wasn't very happy. Why can't I just buy it for him?

We live in what I would call an upper middle class neighborhood. We were lucky. We bought before the big boom and now our home is worth 3 times what we paid for it.

The area above us was recently developed and beautiful homes were built where there used to be Orange Groves and open space. These homes sold for between 1-3 million dollars.

Our town has changed a lot. I'm not sure I like it.

Our kids go to school with friends whose parents are very wealthy. The parking lot at the school is full of BMW's, Mercedes, and new SUV's. No this is not the teachers parking lot but the student parking lot.

I feel like our kids are growing up in a fairy tale world where if you want it you can just get it. Most of these kids will tell you that they will be wealthy like their parents when they grow up. However, if you ask them how that will happen they have no idea.

I find myself wanting to sell our home, move to the south or mid west, buy some land, and build a home in a simpler place.

I am really tired of California and the "Hollywood mentality" of more is better.

Friends, I need help. Tell me what part of the country you live in and if these same trends have permeated your towns.

How do you handle them?

If we were to consider moving where should we move to? Where is the best place you know of to raise a family?

Are there still places out there where life is simple and family is number one?

What do you think?

Editors Note: I just read an article that said 80% of all breast augmentations (boob jobs) are done in California. Why am I not surprised?

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  posted at 11:35 AM  

At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in California a feel the same way. I'm ready to leave as soon as my hubby says "now". Our friends kids are into acting and modeling and sharing with us what they just bought. Then my kids want parties like them or video games like them. It's very hard to keep saying no and explaining that we don't "need" that. The sooner we leave to a simplier place the better.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Heidi @ GGIP said...

What a great post. First of all, that was really nice of your neighbor to tell you about their party! Second, my brother lives in Sacramento and I think life there is about the same as yours.

I live in PA and in my opinion we have the same problems at a different, lower level. Kids still feel entitled, but a lot of them do have jobs and while they might have a car, it is an older cheaper car. I don't think these pressures are too hard to deal with at this point, but I have a lot of close neighbors who share the same values as we do, so it's sortof like a buffer.

I'll be interested in how your thoughts on this subject evolve. Do follow up!

At 6:13 PM, Blogger Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

Well, I live in simple, small-town Texas and I think for the most part, most people are still pretty grounded. Now in the big cities in our state, there is definitely a "bigger is better" and "more is more" attitude, but in small towns like ours, it's not so bad.

I agree with everything you have written though . . . it's hard not to want to give your child his every desire, but at the same time you know that's not healthy. We are SO hoping to be able to teach our children about simple living and the rewards of hard work. So easy to write about, so hard to do . . .

At 6:27 PM, Blogger Military Mommy said...

This is a great topic, Julie! I was raised in the deep south (one stoplight in my town) so I can relate to just the OPPOSITE of everything you described. :) However, I think the best place to be is somewhere in the middle. If I were to move anywhere to raise a family, I would move back to the south. Anywhere from Texas to the carolinas. I love it all. Since we're military, that will never happen. By the time we retire, it will be time for our kids to leave. So I just try to make our home "southern" as much as I can - referring to our values and morals. That is hard since we live basically where you live, but I do my best. That's why I chose homeschooling because I had some civilian friends with kids in the local schools whose stories mortified me. 6 year olds carrying Ipods and talking about kissing boys. Not in my parts, ma'am. :) Anyhoo - I agree that I will be interested to see what you decide. I'll be praying for you, friend. :)

At 3:43 AM, Blogger Kimmie said...

Well we live in a country town, down a dirt driveway-things are simple, we chose that-if you drive to the road you will see many varieties of choices (on how to live)

Really it is simply about keeping our eyes on God and asking him how he would have us raise up our kids and ourselves. He is faithful and is a wonderful leader and guide...our paths have fallen in pleasant places and the blessings and favor are abundant!

hugs from CT
mama to 6
one homemade and 5 adopted (working and saving for #7-this time from Guatemala...come meet us!)

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Melanie said...

We live in Wisconsin. I see the same type of thing you describe but at a lower level. I think it's good to teach kids that they have to work for things instead of it just being handed to them.

At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Ontario, Canada. I feel the same way -- but on a lower scale. There are definitely the neighbourhoods like you're describing, but "middle class" appears to be more middle of the road here. I think it's hard to decide how much to give your children v. how much to encourage them to get it themselves. Getting your first part-time job is still a pretty big deal here. And I don't believe there are many 6 year olds carrying iPods just yet?

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Kathyb1960 said...

I know this particular post is several years old (June of 07) but come on out to West Texas! It's a heck of a lot cheaper than SoCal!

Our reg unleaded gas right now is about 1.50!


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