Raising Happy Children
Taken from Cornucopia, Ideas for Better Living; a newsletter my late wife and I wrote years ago. This article written by Gisel Gresko Ross
As adults, we know that sometimes there just isn’t money for what we want; sometimes, there isn’t even money for what we need. Kids don’t always understand that.
It just isn’t possible to keep up with the Joneses and it isn’t healthy to try either. Even though you don’t want your kids to feel out of place or inferior because they are wearing the no-frills brand sneakers, it isn’t within most budgets to buy the best of everything.
Several friends are experiencing the frustration of having teenagers who are adamant about what they will and will not wear. Adolescents are not usually enthralled by the idea of wearing someone else’s hand-me-downs. When your family austerity plan is in effect, creativity is the key to a well-dressed child and peace in the household.
Communication is critical, too. Your children have to understand that your frugal behavior is necessary for the family’s financial well-being. Let them know that you want their input for saving money, too. Ask them to help you think of ways to stretch the clothing budget to the maximum.
Give kids the amount you can and are willing to spend on an item. If they insist on something more than what you can afford, let them know they have to pay the difference. If they are old enough to complain, then they are old enough to learn the importance of living within their means. Let them baby-sit, get a paper route, mow a lawn or wash a car.
Try taking your child to comparison shop with you. Show them the difference in prices at the discount stores versus the department store brands.
Give your kids a budget. If they’re mature enough to make rational buying decisions, they can decide to spend most of their budget on one videotape that “all the kids at school” have or use it for several items at a discount store. Understand that fitting in is strong peer pressure for them, but emphasize that they are valued for who they are, not what they have and don’t buy them things to show your affection. That’s a dangerous message. Also explain that the celebrities who lend their names to products for advertising purposes are being paid handsomely for their endorsement. Watch some commercials with them and point out how the message is presented to dupe them into paying for the celebrity’s name on the product.
One friend’s trick is to buy her children’s clothing in the discount stores but to put it in a fashionable department-store bag when she presents it to them. If it is perceived to come from an expensive store, chances are they will like it. This is a good way to teach them a lesson in marketing—did they like the item when it was in the bag from the expensive store? Why should those feelings change when they learn where it actually came from?
Sooner or later, kids will learn that they’re who they are, no matter what they have.
From Raising Happy Kids on a Reasonable Budget ©1993 by Patricia C. Gallagher. Betterway Books, 1507 Dana Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45207; (800)289-0963. ISBN# 1-55870-271-7; $10.95.
Here’s to your business success while balancing raising happy children.
Jerry D Ross
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