Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Gotta Have the Status, Baby
According to CBS News, the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton could cost the U.K. economy about $50 million. Isn't that a bargain? Everyone would love to go to the affair. I haven't received my invitation yet, and I fear my status will decline if I don't hear something very, very soon. Precious status!
Speaking of status symbols, have you heard of the "Million Dollar" cocktail with an edible gold leaf? At $29 a bottle, Goldschlager liqueur is not the highest priced status symbol, but why people want to drink 24k gold leaf flakes is beyond me. The manufacturer says, "Goldschlager is more than just an ordinary cinnamon schnapps. Goldschlager has real edible gold flakes floating in a crystal clear liqueur.You won't get rich off of the amount of gold inside that bottle. It's less than one-tenth of a gram. But shake the bottle and watch that real gold leaf sparkle and shine and you'll see why Goldschlager is the perfect choice for your holiday cocktails." Wow, imagine shaking that gold and then ingesting it. Now, there is a drink worthy of status.
If you must have precious metal in your drink, why now just buy the cheap booze and toss some spare change into the bottle? It is status that drives us to crave silly possessions that supposedly represent the gauge by which one's social or economic prestige is measured.
Shouldn't the value of possessions be relative to what each family can afford? Instantaneous pleasure and status are not necessarily good goals to instill in the lives of loved ones. In the case of material possessions, maybe parents should explain to their children that the enjoyment of material goods comes only after hard work or prudent investment, or both. That way, materialism as a lifestyle would become more of a fulfilling goal to achieve and sustain, instead of being taken for granted as an inherent part of life.
And what about even caring for material possessions? Am I wrong, or do children get most of the things they want these days with very little effort? The Jordans (I assume they're still in favor.), the X-Boxes -- parents have bought into the idea that attaining these items is so important for the child's development whether the luxuries are affordable to the family or not. Buying goods on credit that you can't afford bypasses some important qualities of life. While they pursue selfish pleasures, image, and ego, families teach children a lack of integrity.
What does happen when a person is given everything without appropriate effort? And, what happens when someone sees a person getting everything with very little effort? Children with everything are not necessarily happy, growing individuals. Society still claims to resent laziness and unearned entitlement. Parents may be damaging the real status of their prized possessions, their own children, by buying their way to the top. Can you really buy your way into other people's hearts?
Madeline Levine, Ph.D., in her book The Price of Privilege (2006) claims that the current state of affluent materialism has left many well-to-do children feeling empty, depressed and angry, as they act out either through wild behavior and substance abuse, or equally damaging self loathing and self abuse. And, meanwhile, in far less affluent homes, in spite of material possessions provided through great sacrifice, desperation grows as children see their parents working endlessly, or falling hopelessly into debt, while attempting to give their children those things the media and advertisers seem to suggest that every child deserves. These children also turn to wild behavior due to resentment, feelings of emptiness and depression, which show up behaviorally in substance abuse and other forms of self abuse, but also criminal behavior, which can seem to be a legitimate option for getting ahead in a world where so many others can get things so much easier than the underprivileged can.
Speaking of guidance versus control, Levine writes, "The more we pour ourselves, our talents, concerns and aspirations into our children, the less room they have to develop their own talents, concerns and aspirations. Autonomy, not dependency, is always the goal of good parenting. Mother birds know the value of nudging their fledglings out of the nest so that they learn how to soar on their own wings. Overinvolved parents are clipping their children's wings." (Madeline Levine, "What Price, Privilege?" The San Francisco Gate, June 26 2006) The article http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/06/25/CMG5EJ6PF71.DTL
Here is what I propose in today's post. Daniel A. Bochner, Ph.D., writes about the basic building blocks necessary for making children grow into great adults. He believes a few essential components must be cultivated in children in order to fashion them into healthy, thriving, connected beings. ("From Materialism To Integrity: The Building Blocks of the Healthy Human Structure," drbochner.com, 2010) These things are categorized under the following headings in his article:
* Being Special
* Hard Work