How NOT to Turn Your Little Girl Into Kim Kardashian
Dear Monica, In your post, “Main Line Mothers Are Raising Bratty, Spoiled-Rotten Daughters,” you wrote about trying to raise grounded girls in this day and age. My daughter has all of the material things that you described—the car, the jewelry, the shoes and the bags. I think that she is a sweet, good girl and not spoiled at all. I see no problem in how she is being raised. — J.R., Villanova
One of the most important lessons that you can teach a child is the value of a dollar. Regardless of the family you come from, excessive spending is not the model we should impart to our children. I received many comments from my blog addressing over-indulged kids. I am not against presents on a birthday, a mani/pedi with mom, or an acknowledgment of a good report card. What I am against are the parents who have given their kids everything before the age of 18. It is these parents who often wonder why they have to constantly justify and explain what their kids have, and then rationalize how low-key their kids actually are.
Having material things does not preclude you from being a good person. Yes, your daughter can be a model student, a moral individual and a sweetheart, but the reality is that if you doodle her up in the most expensive accessories she will not be perceived as being down to earth. Why not have her viewed for who she is rather than what she has? I am sure she can shine on her own without all of the glitz.
For the rest of the moms out there who are looking for a grounded approach to raising kids, how do you handle a daughter who wants what everybody around her has? First things first, be honest. If you feel it is against your better judgment for her to have the most expensive things that money can buy, just say so. It is hardly an embarrassment not to be driving a BMW by age 17. An alternate approach might be to make a spreadsheet of what a pre-owned car would cost, then add on insurance and gas. Figure out what you feel comfortable asking your child to contribute if you even think a car is necessary at all. If they truly want it, they need to work to help pay for it.
Sharing time with your daughter is great. If this needs to be in a mall or a nail salon, she should be contributing. I can understand a mani/pedi on a special occasion or when taking a vacation, but a weekly appointment in high school is something your daughter should be paying for—not you. Honestly, why are you teaching her that she needs beauty treatments on the regular anyway? If she wants designer jeans, tell her that she can have one pair of J Brand for the year or five pairs of regularly priced jeans. When you go shopping encourage cash not a credit card. Teens need to see those dollars coming out of their wallet and also see how little change comes back. A swipe of a credit card is so abstract to them.
I get many comments about marriage not being the bottom line for women. I agree that not all women need a man to make them happy, but if dating and marriage are part of your vision for your child, then think about this. Your daughter finds a great guy. What is left for him to buy? A car? Nope, you already bought it for her. Clothes? The second floor of Saks is already part of her shopping regimen. Jewelry? She has already been equipped with only the best since her Sweet 16. A gift certificate for a beauty treatment would seem redundant since she gets that weekly. Pocket books? She has been sporting the designer ones since freshman year of high school. Maybe roses are all that remain. Now I want you to be honest, if you have a son, is the above package what you would really want for him?
I think the Buddhists have it right when they say that materialistic things clutter life, not enhance it. Are you trying to raise a Kardashian-esque girl? If not, then practice what you preach. If raising a low-key, grounded kid is your true goal, then you are going to have to change your MO. If you truly want her to have everything that money can buy, just say so without further explanation. Since you, the reader, feel the need to defend your choices regarding what you give to your child, clearly some level of doubt exists. In a nutshell, yes, I am sure your daughter has all of the wonderful traits that you describe, but have you done her any favors by raising her in such an over the top lifestyle? I defer to Steve Jobs on this one. “Simpler is better, less is more”