Delayed Gratification

I’m willing to accept that I’m a bit of a miser. I don’t think I’ve ever once paid for my kids to ride on one of those $2 rides in shopping centres (if you can call bobbing up and down at the price of 4c per second a ride). I think twice about making a phone call at times – because all those 25c calls add up you know!

So I’m definitely on one end of the spectrum when it comes to spending. On the upside I think this will be a useful asset to have in trying to follow the ethical clothing pledge.

There is also another upside to being frugal. Learning the art – and teaching my kids the art – of delayed gratification.

Gen X and Y have often come under criticism for being the generations that want everything, and they want it NOW. They see all the stuff their parents have now that they’re retired or approaching retirement, and set their expectations just as high or higher.

So when a Gen X or Y-er buy their first house, they instantly buy the perfect furniture and decor as well. A new flat screen TV comes along and it is ‘must have it’. TVs after all are essential to ones wellbeing. What this perpetuates is not only a generational obsession with image, but a generation inundated by debt.

Sometimes I’m very conflicted by my tendency to save and not splurge. I wrote about this a bit in my first post ‘More Baby?’. I look at some new fangled things and certainly feel a bit of envy. But I’m also capable of feeling a sense of pride in restricting myself accumulating stuff I really don’t need. Pride in being able to wait and save up for something – making sure that it is really worth having and is not a impulsive purchase.

When my kids were in there 2s I certainly admit teaching delayed gratification was hard. They see it, they want it, and they want it NOW. Dealing with tantrums in a toy shop is never fun. But now they are accepting and understand that presents are for birthdays and Christmas and they have developed the ability to wait.

Interestingly, intelligence and delayed gratification have been linked. Intelligence and self control use the same part of the brain, so scientists think there is a link between the two.

Modern technology such as DVD recorders and PVRs and digital TV stations like ABC 2 with all day kids TV programming make delayed gratification even more of an issue for kids today. Knowing that it there and could be turned on anytime makes the temptation for the kids to watch it greater. In some ways it was easier to moderate kids TV when the only good programs came on after 3pm on weekdays! We weren’t spoilt by choice.

The internet is also a challenge to the art of delayed gratification. It’s there available any time to jump on, and now a growing proportion of us even have it portably available on our phones.

I think the art of delayed gratification is being challenged in our society today. Thankfully there is a growing movement towards things like mindfulness.

People are trying to be more conscious of what they do, and to apply this to things like internet use. So we make a conscious decision to spend an hour on Facebook catching up with friends, because we want to further friendship, rather than just spending night after night doing it because we’re bored, or it’s just what we fall into.

What are your thoughts on the art of delayed gratification, its role in modern society, and whether/how we should foster it in ourselves and the next generation?

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About greenleftyidealist

Green, left and idealistic. A mum, a runner, a rogainer, a public servant and wanna be writer. My dog is golden.
This entry was posted in consumerism, image, parenting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Delayed Gratification

  1. For an interesting study on delayed gratification in kids from the 60s see http://www.sybervision.com/Discipline/marshmallow.htm

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