Mom, Why Can’t We Afford That?

Children are naturally willfill, wantful and often ungrateful creatures. If you think your toddler screaming, ‘I want that, I want that,’ at every television commercial that displays the latest and greatest toy is frustrating just wait till he or she is a teenager. Why? Because teens tend to think that not only do they ‘want’ this or that but also that they ‘need’ these things and that their parents should be made of enough money to provide them. Every. Single. One of them. When you tell your kids no, or tell them that you cannot afford that life can become a series of frustrating moments with your kid asking you, ‘mom, why cant we afford that everybody else in my school can?’

Take a trip to the mall, and your teenager will point out every single cute pair of Sperry shoes that they see despite the fact that you could buy 5 pairs of shoes for the price of one pair of Sperry’s. They will pull out and try on the designer jeans from Hollister regardless of the fact that they cost almost $100. And they will not understand why you can spend $250 on groceries but cannot afford to spend half of that amount on a single pair of jeans. This makes no mention of the fact that an Iphone costs hundreds of dollars and hundreds more to activate and upkeep on a daily basis, or that their schools may require laptops for daily use.

Suffice it to say that life with kids is expensive. And getting more so with time. The pressure that is put on today’s parent to provide the latest and greatest everything is overwhelming. Of course, parents want the best for their children. it’s only natural for a parent to want to provide things for their child that everyone else seems to have. But the bottom line is that some things are simply unaffordable, out of budget, unreasonable and not a priority compared with the fact that you have an electrical bill and car payment due. So what is a parent to do?

Denying your children material possessions is not a bad thing.

In fact, parents who teach their children the difference between needs versus wants, and who talk with them about finances and household expenses are actually preparing their children better for life ahead. There will come a time when your child is on their own, with a hundred and one things that they want for themselves and not enough money to buy them. Children desperately need to learn that for some things in life they will just have to work hard to get, wait, and save money.

By NOT providing your children with everything they see not putting things on a credit card, not taking out loans to install an in ground pool, NOT having an attitude that your child can have everything they want when they want it you teach your children a lot about gratitude. The child who gets everything, who has never had to shop sales or save for something that they want knows little about being grateful for what they have. They come to expect these things and you set them up for a lifestyle that will cause them a great deal of grief later in life.

According to Wallace Wattles, author of the timeless manuscript, The Science of Getting Rich a healthy dose of desire and want for material possessions is exactly what it takes to be successful in life. It is this yearning and wanting for something MORE that causes people to be proactive and take steps to making their wishes come true. A child that has never had to work for anything in their life, who simply is given without consequence every single thing will no healthily develop work ethic or gratitude. it’s not just about spoiling a child, but about completely ruining their capabilities to provide for themselves at some point. And at some point, they will have to do just that.

Saying you cannot afford something may feel like a blow to the ego. Chances are though that you are far from poor. Children need to realize that you have priorities in life, and that you are choosing to spend your money in ways that ensure your child is healthy and well taken care of. A pair of $100 jeans or an Iphone are extras in life frugalities at the very least. And NOT having things that other people have and wishing you did is simply part of life.

Plus, by not just being a YES parent regardless of the cost you can instill in your child the value of working towards a goal. Your child who paid for their own jeans, Iphone or video console through hardwork of their own will learn more about the value of a dollar than the child who receives everything they want. Children will also get to see firsthand, through the funnel of their own wallet just how quickly money goes. And they will also appreciate what they spent their hard earned money on much more than had mom and dad just dug deep in their pockets and given their child every whim and wish.

At the time, saying no and admitting that you cannot afford something may seem difficult. However, being up front and honest with your child and establishing limits and boundaries about what you can, will and will not spend are essential life tools. Your child will also learn that there are many things in life that they can live without and still be happy, which will definitely be a wonderful life lesson when they are supporting themselves.



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