Childrearing

SAHM No More: Teaching My Kids The Value Of Money Is Hard With All Their Rich Friends

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rich kidsSAHM No More explores the the ups-and-downs of navigating a new world of parenting, transitioning from married stay-at-home motherhood to a full-time working, divorced motherhood. And there are a lot of adjustments being made—a lot of adjustments and not a lot of sleep.

I remember when my son first saw a television commercial. He was about four years old and, for the first time, I was letting him watch a TV show with advertisements. He sat completely transfixed during the commercials and then, when they finished, looked over at me and said, “Mommy, how would you ever know what to buy without commercials? They’re amazing!”

And thus began my ongoing war with materialism and kid-focused marketing and the sort of crass consumerism that I not only dislike on principle, but also just can’t afford. I felt like it all began while I was still pregnant, this onslaught of media outlets telling me what to buy, telling me what my soon-to-be-born baby absolutely needed and couldn’t live without. You know, essential stuff. Stuff like baby-wipe warmers, which are, of course, totally essential. And I’ve felt like I’ve maintained a pretty healthy attitude about the whole thing, even as my kids have been raised in a relatively affluent neighborhood in one of the most ridiculously expensive cities in the world.

The thing is about raising my kids in New York is that although some wealth can be really overt—it’s impossible not to know that your friend’s parents do pretty well for themselves when they live in an airplane hangar-sized loft in Tribeca—most of the time financial signifiers are much more implicit. In their own way, they’re just as insidious as all those commercials that I wouldn’t let my kids watch when they were younger.

When I say the problem is insidious, I mean that everywhere I look, I see toddlers in 1,000-dollar strollers playing on several 100-dollar iPads or iPhones as if this should be the norm, and as if the combined cost of these playthings doesn’t equal or surpass many peoples’ rent. It’s much easier to be sanctimonious, though, when your child is too young to really want things. Oh, I know that no one can throw a tantrum like a 2-year-old in a toy store, a 2-year-old who really, really wants a Spiderman toy, but it’s relatively easy to just pick up 30-pounds of squirming muscle and take all that squirminess out of the store.

There you go! Problem solved.

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