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The prospect of parenthood intimidates me. It’s one of those aspects of life in which you can’t just read a manual and know how to properly raise your kid. It’s almost inevitable that children will never turn out the way you expect, so one has to improvise on the fly. Do you give them more or less freedom? How strict should you be in a given situation? And that’s not even getting into other influences wanting to parent for you, most of all consumerism.

In the pursuit of happiness, consumers have become the consumed. Companies trap people into buying endless stuff they don’t need while perpetually disposing of perfectly functional tools for the latest, slightly altered model. They are never to be satisfied, as objects grow old within a matter of days and new ones are constantly being pushed on them. And the world suffers as a result. Ecosystems devastated by waste contamination and resource depletion, working conditions degrading in the rush to get more for less, it’s clear that materialism is fundamentally unsustainable. And we’re only talking about adults.

Advertising is omnipresent in society, and children are too young to comprehend their tricks. Over and over again they are told to define their identity through brand name clothing and gadgets in neat little personality boxes that limit their outlook on life. Fast food and sugary cereals are part of a complete meal, they unable to see the havoc wreaked on their future health as they beg. And of course, billboards, television, magazines, they all reinforce these materialistic values with nary a question.

Obviously, I’m years away from being a parent at the current moment, so I can only question rather than answer. Nonetheless, issues such as aggression in boys and objectification of girls, those have a clear connection to consumerism pulling them into their prescribed roles so it’s easier to shill products to them. Teaching kids to understand and care for others, to follow their dreams regardless of peer pressure, to seek the truth and question everything, these are all values worth teaching and will always exist. But it becomes more challenging to instill these virtues when even adults seem to have forgotten them.

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