How should you go about balancing the possessions you buy for your child against peer pressure from other children (particularly at school) and parents?
Many parents feel the need for their children to keep up to date with whatever other children might have, be it the latest trainers (sneakers), smartphone or tablet computer. The fear being either their child will be bullied or they'll miss out on educational or social opportunities.
I'm conscious of the effect of this "have / have not" scenario on both my child and other children - where if say, I jumped on the bandwagon and bought my child an iPad, chances are there'll be one or more children who won't get one because their parents can't afford it.
I'd imagine none of us want to have their child be the "odd one out", but what is a sensible balance?
- Having (practically) everything? This is the expensive option, plus it puts more pressure on other parents and children. I'd also assume this would make it difficult to make the child appreciate how lucky they are if they get everything automatically.
- Have some of the things from their peer group? What would you prioritise, bearing in mind children can be very brand conscious and their attention / interest in the latest craze may be short-lived.
- Have very little of the "in things", trying to teach the child to appreciate what they do have and explain that there will always be someone with more than them, so they have to learn to accept that?
With the following in mind:
- Like any parent, I want my child to have every opportunity and the best education.
- Like most parents, our family has a limited budget with a balance of priorities.
- We don't want our child to be bullied or excluded from social situations.
- We don't want other children to be left out or increase the pressure for their parents.
Some people commenting and answering have misinterpreted my intentions - I'm not proposing spoiling my child by buying everything they want on a whim. My question relates to situations where all or most children in their class already have something and my child doesn't. The people preaching about how bad it is to hand children everything on a plate have missed the point of this question...
I'd agree with the sentiment that children should be taught not measure their worth in possessions or what they have. However, the further away they are from the situation of their peers, the more difficult they'll find being included and socialising at school. As one answerer already mentions, this really breaks down into two areas: possessions purely for status and prerequisites for participation.
Whilst it's easy to justify not buying fancy shoes, but when all the other child communicate after school using an app, play on-line together on their consoles or ride to their park on their pedal go carts (and your child has none of these things), the other children not playing with mine isn't bullying, it's situational. Ignoring that would just leave my child excluded.