Baby Materialism

“My son, if your heart is wise, my own heart also will be glad.” (Proverbs 23:15)

One of my explicit goals in preparing to be a new parent is to avoid falling into the trap of materialism, which tells you that if you love your child, you would buy things for him or her. I’m glad to have made up my mind to fulfill this goal when Wendy is only about 2 or 3 months pregnant. I’m happy to say that even though Wendy is now 8 months pregnant, we have not even spent $1 buying anything. You might say: does that mean you don’t love your child? Because people say they put their money where their heart is. To that, I say, don’t trust that saying! By limiting and delaying our spending, we determine that material things should not be relied upon to bring health and happiness to a baby.

Do you see baby materialism happening around you? It is well-known fact that the phenomenon of “baby buying frenzy” is exploited by salespeople to tempt parents to buy always the latest and greatest stuff, and lots of it. I actually knew a parent who spend $100/week buying toys (yes, just toys) for her baby! When her baby was just 1 year old, she already bought toys for 6-year-olds. And I talked to another father who told me (in almost the exact same words) that he had no time for his 3 kids because he’s busy earning money to remodel the house (which was already a million-dollar house) so they can have a better life. And why do houses cost so much in Fremont and Cupertino here? Because supposed “good school district” drive house prices up. Personally, I don’t believe a “good school” makes a “good child,” but that’s a writing for another day.

Because our baby is due in less than 2 months now, we do have to buy a bunch of essential baby stuff, so we’re visting a lot of stores these days, but we still haven’t spent any money (although we will soon). We already have a lot of friends giving us baby stuff like clothes, crib, strollers, etc. And now that I’m more attuned to paying attention to baby stuff, I’m constantly horrified at how much websites and magazines and commercials target parents. On a recent Walmart junk mail catalog, I noticed that out of 12 pages, 3 or 4 pages were devoted to baby stuff! I read some free baby magazines where at least half of the pages have full-page commericals, and most other pages of course contain some partial page advertisements. I was given a book called “Baby Bargains” which supposedly tell you to buy bargain stuff, but once I started reading it, I realized it constantly tells you not to get hand-me-downs and to always buy brand-name stuff.

I think people should learn from the Mastercard commerical, and go for the things that are priceless. I ask myself, what can I offer to my baby that is priceless yet worthwhile? And that’s what I will offer baby Chase.