We parents have an annoying habit. There might be a few lone parental souls who don’t do this but I certainly do and so do all the mothers and fathers that I personally know. We tend to repeat certain phrases.
This is not an unconscious habit like a nervous tic. It is deliberate. After all, if I have something worthwhile to say to my children, they might not catch it the first 1,072 times I say it. But if I repeat it more frequently, then I can hope that at a moment when they need this particular piece of advice, it will pop bidden or unbidden into their minds.
One of my personal favorites is the line, “You need oxygen, you need water, you need food and shelter. You do not need cookies, a ride or (fill in the blank) – you would like it.”
This pithy gem usually comes in response to sentences starting with the words, “I need.”
So it was with some amusement that I looked at an advertising catalog this morning for – of all things – computers. The cover proclaimed, “Computing ideas from XXX you can’t live without.”
Now, I actually use my laptop a great deal. It makes my work ever so much easier than it would be without it. But, I have no question that I could survive without it. And I can certainly manage with a less glitzy computer than the ones that were being offered.
What made this piece of mail particularly ironic was that I saw this advertisement while going through a pile of accumulated mail. My husband and I had spent most of the week with Dave and Sharon Ramsey. The DaveRamsey.com company has a mission which is to help people get out of debt if they’re in it, stay out of debt, and control their money rather than being controlled by it. Somehow, I think that the millions of people who follow their advice don’t fall for this type of advertising, and are happier for that.
As we head into the holidays we can expect to be bombarded with advertisements. Experience tells me that over the next few weeks, we consumers will be told of hundreds of products and services we can’t live without. Clothing, toys, jewelry – you name it and we will hear that we need it. I only hope that when my children see these tempting ads the ghost of lectures past comes forward to haunt them, and they laugh rather than reaching for their wallets.