Raising Creative Contributors, not Consumers.

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Some time ago, Tricia over at ‘Little Eco Footprints’ coined the term ‘creative contributor’ for the type of person that she hopes her daughter will become. The term and the idea stuck with me and has become part of my parenting manifesto. After all, imagine how amazing the world could be if we all set out to raise creative contributors, not little consumers.

As parents we are bombarded with messages of consumption from the moment of conception. In Australia, the very first antenatal visit sees expectant parents provided with a ‘Bounty’ bag, packed full of samples of ‘must buy’ products and magazines providing extensive lists of baby ‘essentials’. In the most recent one that I received, there was a full page colour advert for the ‘essential’ pram, complete with its own mobile phone charger. (Oh, and don’t forget the car seat with iPod dock)

From the moment babies are born, they are bombarded with marketing; nappies featuring Winnie the Pooh, 0000 grow suits with Disney insignia and an endless array of early childhood development toys. Once toddlerhood and the competitive sports of playgroup, kindy and primary school dawns, the marketing reaches fever pitch and permeates almost every aspect of existence. In this environment, how can one not be expected to raise a consumer?

The thing is, we can and we should strive to raise children that creatively contribute, rather than simply consume. We can help our children avoid the bombardment of advertising by turning off the television and radio. We can ask family and friends to not turn our children into walking billboards for Nickelodeon. We can be conscious of the toys that our children play with and if we must purchase, seek out those that are produced in environmentally and socially responsible circumstances. We can encourage our children to create their own imaginary worlds, to turn an empty box into a space ship, saucepan lids into cymbals and the dining table into a cave.

Through our words and most importantly our actions, we can raise children that seek to use their creativity to contribute to the world around them. By engaging our children in the world, talking them through our decision making process and setting the example of creatively contributing wherever possible, we can and we should raise children that are ‘creative contributors’.

For ideas on how you can help your children to become creative contributors, check out ‘The disobedient consumer – tips for toddlers’

I’d love to hear how you are helping your children to grow and contribute!

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