Are We Raising Spoiled Kids?
An article in Sunday’s paper caught my eye. The title asked readers if today’s kids are spoiled.
The article went on to note that many homes today have two working parents compared to homes in the ‘60s, when only dad worked outside of the home and, therefore, we make more money that we can spend on our kids.
Additionally, the new ‘toys’ for kids are much more expensive than the toys of our generation. If you were around in the ‘70s like me, you probably remember jump ropes, hula hoops, Romper Stompers, and sticks you found in the empty lot down the street that made great wands, swords, and pencils to draw in the dirt.
These days, starting from very early on, the article noted many toys consist of electronic gadgets that range from handheld games, cell phones (about which I blogged on Monday), video games that get plugged into the television, and music players that plug into the computer and the ears.
And they don’t come cheaply.
This doesn’t include all the ‘things’ our kids want because other kids have them: specific brand name clothes, shoes, jewelry.
I didn’t give any of this much thought until last year, when my oldest got to an age when she began to notice she didn’t have some of the things her classmates had, like a TV in her bedroom or a cell phone. She began to question why she didn’t have them, which turned into long discussions and numerous tears (both mine and hers).
I tried to explain my philosophy, which boils down to this: I want her to understand everything comes with a price and that oftentimes we don’t get everything we want at the time we want it. For instance, I work, and yet I can’t walk into a store, find an expensive ‘toy’, and scoop it up the minute I see it. I have to wait a while. Do some research. Consider if it is something I really want. Save some money for it.
I feel it’s important she understand this, and that she also understand the $50 play dog at the super store that does most of the things that our real dog does, minus chewing up her dolls, will be fun for about two hours; then it will get tossed in the drawer with the other stuffed toys and forgotten.
I also explained to her that it doesn't always boil down to whether or not we have or want to spend the money. Some of these expensive items are things I believe will keep her playing solo, and I want her engaged with her family most of the time. Could I monitor said electronic gadget use? Yes. But if I don’t have to deal with that right now, at the age of eight, why choose to do so? I’d much rather see her reenacting a scene from Peter Pan than to spend time fighting with her about why she can't text her friends.
It’s hard to be a parent. We want our kids to fit into a group, to feel liked and included; we want them to have the things we didn’t have. But spoiling our kids can potentially create a generation of adults who don’t understand you don’t always get what you want (and yes, I’m singing The Stones in my head right now).
I know many of her friends are like her: they spend time playing outside after school, they don't have the newest and greatest, and they wear items their parents bought on sale. Yet it is still something we will deal with, I'm sure, until she graduates from high school. I suppose learning that you can't always keep up with the Joneses is a tough lesson regardless of your age. And yet it is one we all have to learn.
Do you feel we are raising a generation of ‘spoiled’ kids when it comes to monetary things? Why or why not?