Walking through our local supermarket today my two year old gave the classic “I want that one mummy”about every item we walked past, he never throws too much of a tantrum (there’s still time I know) if he doesn’t get something, probably because he knows he has more than enough toys at home.
When an answer of “No”simply isn’t enough and he pushes by actually picking the item up (today’s choice was a Princess Peppa Pig) I reply with what I think is a pretty reasonable excuse for not getting him it “Mummy can’t afford it” this may not be every parent’s choice of phrase, but today I got a very obvious glare of disapproval by a passer-by and a passing comment of “Did you hear that? Why would you say that to your child”.
Well I didn’t respond to this stranger in person, 1: Because it really didn’t bother me too much, but just made me curious of people’s perception of right and wrong. 2: I have 3 kids under 3, I don’t have the time or entertainment to keep them still while discussing my reasons and 3: I have an irrational fear of stranger danger, even as an adult.
I mean what else am I meant to teach him? That I just don’t want to get him it? That’s not true, but I don’t feel guilty, he certainly doesn’t need this toy, I haven’t just refused him a quenching bottle of water when he’s thirsty. I’m not ashamed that I don’t have the spare money to spend £10 on a Peppa Pig figurine on a daily basis but it doesn’t mean he goes without.
I feel teaching him that all these luxuries cost money and sometimes you can’t have them is vital to him recognising the value of money, as he gets older he can earn money of his own if he wants extra toys that he has his heart set on.
So it doesn’t bother me that people look at me like a cheap-skate when I tell my kids I can’t afford to buy them something they obviously need, fair enough if I pull up in a Range Rover rocking the latest Michael Kors yet I can’t afford to buy a loaf of bread I’d expect some judgemental frowns, but I’m raising miniature people here, people I want to have respect for money as they grow up.