Wednesday, January 24, 2007

An infantile society

The midwives told me to remember that Danny's wants are his needs for the first few months. This advice has helped me survive these first weeks with our son. It helped me not to take it personally when he cried inconsolably. It helped me not to resent it too terribly much when all he needed was to be held (and all I wanted was a shower and a clean shirt). It's something that he will outgrow as he learns to soothe himself. And it's already starting. He's found his fists and loves to look at his surroundings. He's figuring out that his world is bigger than mommy and daddy.

I like to think that I've outgrown that stage. With every "need" that pops up, I analyze whether its really a need or if it's just something that would be nice to have. I ask myself if there is a suitable substitute around the house. Sometimes just waiting a day or two helps me determine how urgent my "need" is. One of my most important jobs as a parent is to help my children understand the difference between wants and needs. I don't want them to spend their lives on an endless mission to fulfill wants masquerading as needs.

It seems some (actually, most) in our society can't distinguish between wants and needs. A record number of people are in debt up to their eyeballs and Americans' savings accounts are virtually barren. Advertisers convince us that we "need" all sorts of things that are actually luxuries. If a person can't distinguish between their wants and their needs, aren't they somewhat infantile?

This leads me to ask: My son is two months old ... What's your excuse?

1 comment:

Pop Pop said...

Our 4 values of more, easy, fast and fun are what the advertisers pump at us 24/7. So it's no wonder most people haven't figured out the difference between the wants that the advertisers put there, and the basic human needs we all have.