I understand that this materialism may be linked to a feeling of loss inside. He thinks he'll be able to fill in the emptiness caused by the loss of his mother with material possessions like wii games or stuffed toys. Of course, he won't, he never will, and though I have talked to him about it, he'll never believe me.
But the two month summer holiday has taken its toll on me. I feel that all the lovely things we did, all the treats he had, all the time we spent together failed to really please him, because he only ever really wants what he hasn't got. Then when he does get it, he's not bothered about it anymore. The point is always the acquisition not the actual possession. This has left me feeling drained.
Last Saturday I wanted us all as a family to go leafletting to advertise my new business. Son didn't want to go. I saw this as yet another opportunity to teach him about the value of things, that money doesn't grow on trees, that money must be earned. I tried to tell him that if this business works that'll mean more money for us as a family, that we'll all benefit, so I think he should help me put some leaflets out. He then said that I would spend all the money I earned on myself.
Well, that really got to me. Because other than the basic necessities of food and clothes, all my income and savings are spent on my family. Next to food, my petrol costs are my biggest expense and guess who I'm buying the food and driving around all the time for? I'd say my only real luxuries are make-up and books (and half the books I buy are about adoption!).
So I laid down the law to my son. Gave him a lecture on my sacrifices compared to his gains in this family. I told him that I was very close to stopping all treats, not to punish him, but so that he had a chance to learn just how much he does get and how much he actually does have. I told him that I wanted to see him appreciate gifts and treats from now or I would stop them.
So, along comes Wednesday. On Wednesdays I take my mum supermarket shopping and she buys my kids a comic each. On Wednesday, after school, my children are presented with their comics as usual. A nice treat from their grandmother. Son tantrums because it wasn't the one he wanted.
I simply took it off him and said no more. On Saturday, when all four of us go supermarket shopping, I usually buy them both another magazine (there are a lot of kids magazines on the market these days!). This Saturday, he will not get one.
I have already declined to take him out with me once this week, and took his sister instead, explaining matter-of-factly that I couldn't take the chance of him tantrumming if he saw something that he wanted that I wouldn't buy him. He didn't like it, but he took it on the chin.
I wonder how long I will have to keep this up for and if it will ever work.