Exposing them to the “Real World” or Creating a New One?

My mom gave me $40 on my new pair of jeans, but she still thinks they’re too expensive.”

Fourteen-year-old “Amy” told my daughter.

“They cost $150 but everybody has a pair and I’ve been wanting some for so long.  I (interject squeal) loooooove them!”

My bugged eyes matched my open mouth as I listened to the conversation.

This is what we call “the real world”?  This is *not* “the real world”.  This is one we are fabricating.  A world that is being perpetuated through childhood and on into adulthood.  A world where adults are slaves to debt because they *must* have what everyone else has, no matter the cost.  A world where one’s identity is wrapped up in the name on his label.

Another overheard conversation involved the recent break-up of a young girlfriend and boyfriend.  In the prime of their youth, when life offers so many opportunities for growth and preparation, they are distracted, consumed and wounded with premature romance.

Preparing for the real world? What, a world where a boy has practiced leaving the one he “loves” when he gets tired of her?  A world where a girl is always looking for a “better relationship”?  Do those habits just give way to fidelity once the vows are made?

No.  And you can confirm that with about 60% of the population.  This is our reality.  This is the world we’ve created.

If you say “I want my children to be prepared for the real world”,  you had better define which world that is.  Because this world is not a world where the principles of God reign.  It is not a world where wisdom is exalted.  It is not a world where children are grown into responsible, productive adults who love Heaven more than earth.

I watch a family frantically shuffling their schedule to figure out when they might eat supper.  “I’ll pick up Tyler at 4, but you’ll have to take Katy to her soccer practice and I won’t make it because Tyler’s team has pictures afterwards.  Oh, and don’t forget Katy’s game is tomorrow night.  We’ll just pick up a burger.”

Is this the real world?  Every ounce of time, money and energy poured into a recreation that will most likely be a distant memory in a few years? Preparing them for the real world?  A world where the family table is only a place to hold the clutter of going and coming people?  A world where people are so busy they don’t notice how little they know about each other until it’s too late?  A world where our children learn where our hearts are because of where we spend our treasure?

Yes, I’m afraid that is exactly the world we’ve created.

Welcome to the “new real world”.

54 Responses to “Exposing them to the “Real World” or Creating a New One?”

  1. Kari says:

    You are right on!!! Excellent article!

  2. This is so sad, but so true, nowadays. I wish that people could just make those choices that give them what they really need – what they really “want”, if truth be told, though they may not know it.

    The beauty of a family that eats together, lives together, and learns together is incomparable. There is nothing better than a happy home. Nothing. But happy homes don’t just happen – they need to be made! And they are most definitely not made by choosing to have more “stuff” – (things or activities!).

    As to what is “real” – I can only say that the “real world” is as meaningless as the “truth” that Pilate was seeking in his day. There is only one “real” and there is only one “truth”.

    And only one path to happiness. Through Him.

    Blessings!

  3. Ginger says:

    I know this world all too well. All my nieces and nephews live it. Imagine how many jeans I could buy with $40! 😉 (But I’d prefer skirts, not thigh-hugging jeans.) I’m so weird. lol
    I don’t want my kids prepared for the world. I want them prepared for heaven. It is completely changing the way I homeschool.

  4. Jennifer says:

    This is why I tell my sisters, “No, that is NOT ‘reality’ TV…”

  5. Tawny says:

    Excellent post!! My mother was just telling me to ‘get with the times’ this is ‘the real world’. I refuse to accept that!

    • Tawny, I just had the same conversation this weekend with my BFF.

      We’ve actually had a complete role reversal over the twenty years of our friendship. I have to guard that I’m not pining for my “old” life when I’m with her and her family. They’re beautiful wonderful people, not a covetous bone between them, but there is a new consumerism there that is driven by their ‘tween daughters, it would seem, though after attending church with them it’s alive and well throughout the Body, to be sure. I can’t help but wonder what the lasting effects of their lifestyle will be…I would love to be able to say it will never be enough -you can’t buy your way to what you’re looking for, and not sound condescending or envious. I’m praying about that.

  6. Kim M says:

    I’ll take 25 cent thrift store clothes and tossing a ball with daddy in the back yard any ole day!

  7. Lindsey says:

    How we long to be different from the world! I so cherish having my family at the dinner table together and having time afterwards to do devotions together! I pray that sports practices and other activities don’t push this aside. There are so many *good* things we could be doing…church activities, sports, music lessons, etc. …but how good are they when they leave little or no time for teaching our children the fear of the Lord?

  8. Lindsey says:

    Sorry-link to my blog was wrong on my comment. Here is the correct link.

  9. Mandi says:

    Kelly, in my best gospel music voice, “Aaaaamennnnn!” Thanks for this today!

  10. Kelly L says:

    Nice post. I agree, the real world is an illusion! I would just like to add it isn’t frivolous to buy new clothes on sale (or not on sale), if that is where God is telling you to go. At least for us, the price of our clothes does not make us not see my husband. We still have time for my husband to catch for our daughter and we go to most practices together if he is not working. Although I do see families in so many activities that they are drawn apart, it doesn’t have to be that way. Listening to what God wants you to do alleviates much trouble.

  11. Melissa says:

    Parents are not only slaves to debt they are slaves to their children these days. I remember being taken aback recently to find out that a six year old that we know just HAD to have thongs because her mommy did. Her cousins came over and this little girl showed everyone including the adults her new undies! We have left the world of modesty and self control long ago and entered Chaos! It is so hard to keep up the fight in the new world. I guess that is why Paul (one of the greatest encouragers)kept repeating himself about keeping up the good fight and finishing the race…

  12. stephanie says:

    Great post! We always tell our children it is not how much money you have but the love you have in your family. If you ask anyone – a child would pick spending their time with YOU than doing 100 things or buying them stuff.

  13. Alex says:

    Love, love, love this. I am always being told about the “real world” from my mother and others. Such an encouragement to hear I am not alone.

  14. Karen Holsomback says:

    You know I was talking to a friend yesterday and she said, “I dont think there is anyone else that thinks like me”. I feel that way sometimes, and that is why I appreciate your blog so much. Thanks for the reminder that our lives are not about “stuff” as the world would have us believe!

  15. Margaret says:

    Hit the nail on the head as usual.

    It’s like “reality” youth TV. That’s the ‘real world’? A generation or two seem to think so, and try to emulate it. Scary.

  16. tamela says:

    *Take the World, but Give Me Jesus* Thank you so much for this song Fanny Crosby~~ thanks for this post~~

  17. Carmen says:

    I just heard an interview of Peter Hitchens, the author of the book, The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led me to Faith. He describes our society as a “teenage society.” He says that the old and the very young are trying to be like teenagers. It is so sad that children in this “real world” need real adults who can guide them, and the adults are trying to be like the teenagers, who buy the outrageously expensive jeans and attend rock concerts. He made a statement that the old men are wearing their caps on backwards as well as the little elementary students, so that they can both look the “teenage” part. It reminds me of how the Romans celebrated the youth culture and worshipped it.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Carmen,

      That is so interesting. More interesting is thinking how in previous times, the “teen” period was the only period that DIDN’T exist. Children were immediately pushed toward responsibility and independence and were not given a “free time” period in between. Boys were men by their adolescents and girls were women. They rose to the expectations and a society was better for it, I think.

      • I think society was the better for it too.

        I think it is of utmost importance for children to be children; to have freedom, to use their imaginations, to play and enjoy their childhood with little responsibility.
        But as they get older, they should be required (and want to) take on more responsibilities as they slowly become adults. What is this crazy period where they behave like children, little responsibilities, attitudes of entitlement and no clue as to what needs are.
        But they got that way somehow. Unfortunately, we as adults allowed it to come in and it is now accepted by many as the norm and the most desirable.

        Let us here change the world, one family at a time…with our own.

        • Jennifer says:

          I do NOT think that it’s beneficial to think of little 13-year-old girls or boys as adults, as they sometimes had to be by necessity in older times (partly so they could start reproduction). They clearly don’t have the development in mind, heart or even body that full-fledged adults do. I DO agree that they should be given responsibility and that teenhood should NOT be a “free-time”; that treatment is just nonsensical and creates spoiled, even stupid children. The teen years should be a training field for adulthood; they’re already the years of their primary education.

          • Oh, I hope my comment didn’t lead you to believe I thought teens were adults because I really don’t. Some 18 year olds aren’t there yet! I simply meant that I would expect teenagers to take on more responsibilities and, as you put it well, it would be a training for adulthood period.

            All these comments certainly provide a lot of material to think about; almost more than the post itself 🙂

    • Dana says:

      The Romans actually expected their (upper-class) young men to go through a period of “sowing their wild oats” as it were. They looked the other way as long as the youths didn’t do anything really destructive to society like sleeping with a married woman or a free-born virgin, and then expected them to grow out of it and take up the adult responsibilities of marriage, fatherhood, and civic engagement. (No such indulgence for girls, of course.)

    • Kelly L says:

      Wow! How astute and sad at the same time. A side story about this whole teenage freedom thing:
      My 10 yr old daughter looks about 15 (good thing I “brainwashed” her on the whole purity thing 😉 ) and at the Drs office last Fri, an 18 year old girl stuck up a conversation. She told my daughter (while I was standing in line) how unfortunate she was that she had chores, could only listen to Christian music, ect… My 10 year old gave her a speech on how responsibility now would mean an easier life in the future because she could run her own house, ect. The girl’s response? “Yeah, I guess structure is better, then.” I think the only time I had been more proud is when she preaches the gospel, or obeys God in something hard. How sad that that girl missed the truth her whole life!

  18. Sylvia says:

    Nice topic.

    When we confuse ‘stuff’ with happiness then it is a problem IMO. But is all stuff wrong ? And how much is too much ?

    I sheepishly confess to loving books and would cheerfully fill wall after wall with them. But I have since learned to use the library. Especially when it comes free. Yes the whole taxes thing, but I love the library and the events there. Our children have books and toys and I generally encourage them to give one old but good toy to charity when they get new for birthday or christmas.

    Our children are not athletic. They play, but athletes, I would be shocked if someone from our family actually was good enough to play anything remotely professional or even school level.

    As for activities, I would personally not like over scheduling a child. But for instance, swimming is not a skill emphasized in my native country. I actually learned to swim as an adult here, drive a car, even my bike riding was not very good.

    So I wanted them to learn things like swimming, biking when they are children. If learning our native language counts as extra curricular I suppose they have that as well as extra math on the weekend.

    As for music and art my husband and I have a very science/math heavy back ground so I try to do the art part though badly 🙁

    And music, learning to play an instrument is something I wish I am brave enough to try at my age. I would look at it as they grow older.

    But I think anything that takes away from family time, eating, cooking as a family on a regular basis will make me revaluate our schdule if we ever get there, hopefully never. Though there will always be those days that are exceptions.

    One good thing I found that helps us as a family to create empathy is sponsored children from our native country. We have ‘adopted’ a sponsored child who is close to the ages of our children when each were born and the same sex. We go to our native country each year and though my husband and I are the ones actually sponsoring them, we encourage our children to ‘share’ their clothes with their sponsored sibling, buy a new toy each year if they get birthday/christmas money or set aside a new toy for them from their gifts. They visit them, write to them etc. These sponsored children are very poor. The hope is our children will learn through this to always share with the less fortunate and not so much stuff for themselves.

  19. Charity says:

    Wow! I think my eyes and jaw are matchng yours Kelly. I have three littles, but I can’t imagine spending $40 on onoe piece of clothing, much less $150! We put $10 per family member in our clothing envelope each month and that works nicely for us. It would take us 3 mnoths to have the money to pay for that pair of uneeded jeans!

    I certainly appericiate this thought provoking post.

  20. R. F. says:

    Wow! I too have my jaw hitting the floor over the cost of those jeans. I know they exist, but I couldn’t imagine my children wanting them. My oldest is only six, things may change. But I do know children younger than him dictating to their parents what they want to wear. It is sad.

    This year we just started our children in soccer. (We are behind according to some parents who started their children at age 3). In an effort to keep things sane, my husband requested both are boys be on the same team (age 6 and 5) and he offered to coach. We hold practices in our backyard one day a week. We all go to the games together on Saturday.

    Because of my husbands business schedule, we don’t often have dinner together at a certain time. However, we compensate by eating breakfast together instead. I would love nothing more than to be together in the evening regularly, but for now this is what we have to do. (We are usually able to pull it off about 3-4 nights a week.) I am thankful that we are at least able to start the day together.

  21. Katie says:

    For us homeschoolers, you may be able to find during the day lesson slots for music, which is one of the better choices of “activities” imo. I know my aunt loves having hs students and loves the relief on her afternoons and evenings. (She’s been THE piano teacher in our hometown for thirty-five years!)

  22. Lady Rose says:

    I’ve seen those “$40.00 pair of jeans” in the stores, and I have always wondered why anyone would waste that much money on a piece of clothing, which is 100% cotton, that will shrink and discolor within a years time (if not sooner)?

    By the way, great post! 🙂

    -Lady Rose

    • Word Warrior says:

      LR,

      Just to clarify, it was a “$150 pair” 😉 Oh, and the latest news was a young teen family member who paid $300 for *the* purse (I forget the name brand). I find that purses have an interesting edge in the marketing industry; if you’re into fashion you simply get the latest brand of purse, regardless of how ridiculous the price.

      It’s a telling symptom of our culture and it’s across the board for children, teens and adults emerged in the brand frenzy.

      • Lisa in ND says:

        Okay — $150 is MUCH crazier than $40! I am grateful my 2 sons were never obscessed with name brands, until my older one hit later teen years and then had a PT job to buy his own clothes (such as American Eagle jeans).

        As far as purses — you can find great deals at thrift stores and secondhand stores, even the trendy ones.

        I totally see where you are coming from on “brand frenzy.” I see it in young kids, teens, all the way up to women my age (late 40s). It’s crazy.

    • Lady Rose says:

      Oh dear! You mean they were $150.00? I thought $40.00 was an over-the-top amount for a pair of jeans, but $150.00? Yikes!

      I know about name brand purses also being quite outlandishly expensive. I’m not sure why women want to spend that much money for a handbag. Sigh.

      I guess the world has “gone nutty,” eh? 🙂

      -Lady Rose

  23. Krissa says:

    This feels a bit like well, gossip. Do they know they are the subject of your post?

    • wordwarrior says:

      Krissa,

      I am discerning enough to avoid gossip. Every detail about things I relay are changed. From “friend” to gender to item bought…etc. If the person from whom the story sprang was reading, they would not recognize it to be about them (until maybe now that I’ve had to explain myself to you). The event is based on a true occurrence in our lives, but represents multiple stories I hear on a continual basis.

      Relaying a “simulated” event for the point of discussion is not gossip.

  24. Well, this might be gossip, because I’m going to tell a story on my brother — who is a wonderful, hardworking, earned every penny of what he has kind of guy — but a bachelor who has been of fixated on labels since we were kids (I don’t think I saw him in anything but Polo from age 9 to 21). Anyway, he’s claimed a frugal tack since his business has slowed a bit this year, and he’s taken to shopping at low rent places like Nordstrom Rack and a men’s resale that requires a membership to shop in (I’m not kidding). He left me a voice mail the other day bragging that he’d just gotten a NWT pair of A—-i jeans for the low low price of $235. They were originally $995. What a steal! By all means, get two. *sigh* Yes, they make them because someone is buying them.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Wow. I find the marketing schemes and consumer “stupidity” to be mind-blowing. As long as you fabricate an astronomical “regular price”, you can sell it with the “great deal-lower price”, which is still astronomical, and the consumer feels great about his “savings”.

      We see something similar with our wedding business…we actually offer one of the lowest prices for weddings available in our area. You can rent our unique, rustic and beautiful facility for the WHOLE day (no time limits) for $1350. However, we seem to be losing business. We NEVER get calls or emails from “upper class” brides. They seem to rule us out precisely because of our low price. So it looks like in order to continue the business, we are going to be forced to inflate the price just to inflate our perceived product value.

      • And I guess one good turn deserves another, so I’ll tell a story on myself and confess that a good deal of my profit margin relies on perceived value. Like you’ve found, underpricing is often more difficult to overcome than overpricing in certain industries. I donate a lot to fundraiser silent auctions, gladly, hopefully it does some good and it seems to be a nice advertising opportunity besides. Once I estimated the value of an item at $50ish dollars, hoping it would be a quick sale for the charity and drive business. No one bid (I was so embarrassed), and I didn’t get a single call. More recently, in this rough and tumble economy, I valued a similar item at $195…a good cause netted almost that much on the sale, and I have a follow up job to go along with it. I’m certainly not complaining, but it does make one wonder.

      • Sylvia says:

        My exposure to American weddings is courtesy of Bridezillas, not the program but a person. I did not know one should take a gift for a bridal shower, no one told me and I did not google :(. I had already planned to buy an expensive wedding gift. This was the same person who asked me to be a bridesmaid. I had to spend money on an ugly dress I never wore, drive and fly for many showers/wedding related events etc. I was flattered to be asked. Until I got my credit card bill. Needless to say I have always declined. Apparently there are even ‘rules’ for how much an engagement ring should cost and how many month’s salary a man earns or something.
        But ‘traditions’ like these are everywhere. I come from a culture with its own horrific wedding traditions. My parents saved their entire lives for my wedding. They paid for everything. From transporting people, stay, food etc. My husband said no to a horrific pratice called dowry and neither did I want a man who would demand money from my parents to marry me. But we could not say no to a lot of things. There were lots of people and in my culture a wedding about celebration, family etc. My poor in laws and parents are still being criticized years later by some foolish relatives on both sides of the family. My inlaws were supposedly too cheap to buy me expensive stuff and my parents were supposedly too weak to demand. Yet my parents and in laws are the people who in their old age climbed on a plane time and again and put their lives on hold so they could help us raise our children when they were little and needed help. The truth was I could not stomach spending so much money on things I would wear only rarely since I lived in America. Love is not in things. It is in actions.

      • And that IS a terrific price, Kelly – my daughters are getting married there, for sure. What’s available for 2021?

        • Kelly L says:

          CC,
          That was a good one. Make sure they know they are wearing your old dress too. My daughter just LOVED that idea *she says sardonically* In fairness, she wants to design her own. Still, there is nothing like being told how horrible your very expensive wedding dress would be “now days.”

  25. Tina says:

    Well, I’ll admit that my children do have expensive clothes. That is not because we are focused on brand names, but instead we are focused on making sure our money goes to people who earn a fair wage. I would rather pay $150 for a pair of jeans and know that it was made by people who were paid and treated fairly, then pay $10 for a pair at Walmart and know that there is a good chance that the person who made them was treated poorly and sometimes actually beaten and whipped with that very pair of jeans. I want my children to learn to put others first, and for our family, that means that we only buy fair trade items that do cost more. The true reality is that the reason most clothes and items are so cheap is because the people who make them aren’t treated that well.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Not if you buy those “fair trade” items at the Thrift Store 😉

      • Dana says:

        Sure, but someone has to buy them new in the first place. 🙂

      • Tina says:

        Someone has to buy them first. You are talking about the “real world” and the truth is that the only reason people here are shocked at the “high” prices of clothes is because they are not used to paying people living wages. We in America have gotten to the point where we care more about low prices then the people who are having to suffer so that we can have cheap items. My family’s goal is to always put others first and to treat all people as if they were Christ. And that includes the people on the other side of the world making our stuff.

        • Word Warrior says:

          Tina,

          Your point is noble and worth taking note. We do take a lot of things for granted that are out of sight.

          However, the thrust of the post (and only a fraction of it was about the cost of things) is that we too easily allow our children to be swayed by name brands, peer pressure and consumerism. I personally don’t believe ALL cheap clothing is produced by a sweat shop that abuses its laborers. No doubt it exists, but I don’t think we’re left with the only option of buying a $150 pair of jeans. There are cheap clothes manufactured in the US that are easily found.

          Furthermore, I still think buying second hand avoids the “support” of labor-abuse.

  26. Katie Grace says:

    Just because clothing costs more does not mean that it was made by people who were earning a fair wage. Why that is a noble pursuit – to buy clothing not produced by child labor or in sweatshops, many name brands are produced in China, India, or elsewhere overseas. Many children’s fine clothing is made in the USA. We however choose to buy these items from consignment stores or at the blowout end- of- the – season sales. There is a huge markup on clothing. I have a friend who is a buyer for a regional department store. She said most people would be shocked to see what the store pays per unit on most designer items compared to what the suggested retail price is. My children dress well but we never pay full price.

  27. Cathy says:

    In the spirit of the post, I must agree. I am around a lot of children. Not all children are consumed about brand names, though it does exist. The last couple years of a tough economy has limited the brand name locally a little. However, if clothes aren’t taking precedence, then other things do. Maybe it’s the newest cell phone or laptop. I’ve had very young children come to Sunday School with top of the line cell phones that I know didn’t come free with an upgrade. What is important in some families seems very different than what is important in mine, even in the church. However, I’ve come to accept that, in many ways, not fitting in is a good thing.

  28. Renee says:

    Love this post! You expressed so clearly the truth in these days! I know some parents who have to take second job just to pay for their children activities (soccer, hockey piano, ballet etc..)

    They will say to you, they are only young once, they have to have the best time of their life, or they’ll grow up soon enough and then they will have to face the “real world” and work etc…

    What I see is perpetual adolescence!!! I have friend my age (early thirties) that will go from relationship to another never committing because they are not ready but want all the benefit of them. They party all weekend long, drink lots and do other stuff reserve to married couple and then go to work on Monday to makes money to pay for their weekend parties etc…

    It’s so sad, that what would be in that past seeing as laziness is now the norm!!! drunkenness and fornication are view as a part of life now and not a sin.

    Seeing materialistic goals, working to make money to spend on oneself only, to satisfy all ones selfish needs are the new norm too.

    And sadly that “worldly” views is infiltrating our church and is now becoming the norm.

    Thanks for sharing your taught on this post!

  29. Joanne says:

    It’s a very materialistic world we live in. I think we all should be more idealistic and value more than our things. I appreciate how you manage to lead a simple life. I envy that. I am not that interested in consumerism either, but that’s because I try to live more environmentally friendly (and mostly buy things/clothes which are recycled or second hand). Perhaps you can agree that our drive to consume can be quite overwhelming though. Instead of being a master of our things, we are like slaves under them. Our self-worth and/or status even seems to be reflected in what kind of jeans we wear or what kind of car we drive (or if we have a car) and so on.

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