Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Luxury is a Demand Teens Can't Afford

A recent Associated Press article said that kids are "demanding" luxury back-to-school clothes and accessories this year. And many parents are buying. The teens are more brand-conscious, the story said, because they see photos of movie stars carrying status bags and wearing designer bug-eye sunglasses.

I wonder why these teens are in a position to make demands. Have they taken hostages?

To me, demanding a movie star wardrobe is like wanting a corner office without actually having a job. After all, isn't the point of a status bag to show your status? A movie star, who is making millions of dollars, should perhaps carry a Balenciaga bag, whatever that is. Likewise for a businessperson. A high school student making little or no money, on the other hand, should wear...a backpack.

I have nothing against these luxury items. Personally, I think they're beautiful. And some teens, the article said, save up to buy them for themselves. So that's nice. (Although, I wish I had today all that babysitting money I blew on shopping as a teen. Money never goes out of style, ladies. Handbags do.)

Also, I can see splurging on (a knockoff) designer purse as a Christmas gift. But what about the parents who buy these things for their kids as if they're just another pack of markers?

Hasn't their child's school supply list already driven them to the brink of poverty? Ours has.

Hearing my kids' "demands" I might say something like, "Didn't I just buy you 84 pencils? Honestly, will nothing make you happy?"

Not surprisingly, parents with sizable incomes are more likely to buy luxury items for their children. Which make sense. I, too, love buying my kids gifts. I can only imagine what I would do if our liquid assets (hope and prayer) weren't wrapped up in the minivan.

But because spending too much money on my kids is the one parenting mistake I haven't made yet, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to get on my high horse.

So I've compiled a list of things that all teens--even if they're rich--simply must have.

1. A job. Without one, they will think that money is free. Therefore, they will think that people without money are dumb. Why don't they get some cash? they'll wonder. It's free for the taking.

2. A car. That doesn't work. This builds character. And it keeps them in the driveway and off the road, which is dangerous.

3. A cell phone. Ha ha. Just kidding. I mean, do these gadgets give parents brain damage, or what? Every time I watch T.V., there's an ad showing moms and dads pulling their hair out. "Oh, God! Our kids are texting too much!" they cry. "It's costing us a fortune. Whatever will we do?"

Here's a thought: take the phone away.

Now, I can see where these are a good tool in case of emergency. So clarify that. Say: Here's a phone. Feel free to call me and/or the police.

4. Allowance. Tee hee. Kidding again. Allowance works like this: You pay your kids to eat you out of house and home, basically. And this teaches the children financial responsibility, according to experts.

Well, these experts must have been raised by the Hiltons, for whom allowance is a real-life scenario. When the middle class caught on to the trend, it didn't quite fit. When will their kids ever get paid for doing basic chores as grownups? I cook and clean all day, and believe me, there's no money involved.

Now, as a kid, I was luckier than most. My parents paid for school and sports and piano lessons and braces. Probably, they couldn't always afford to give us what they did.

Today, lots of parents stretch the limits to give their kids the best start. Knowing where the line is between providing for your kids and spending too much can be tough. But I think we can all agree that when your teen is carrying a bag that costs more than the textbooks inside, you've crossed it.

After all, it's what's inside that counts.


Anonymous mom said...

You sound just like another person I know and love! I think that's great! Hope you don't mind Grandma skipping over the line a little!!

4:13 PM  

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