Dad, are we poor?

I’m going to start by saying some problems can only be classified as “first world problems”. When you have larger issues on hand like where your next meal will come from or whether you will even see tomorrow’s sunrise, you’re not exactly worried about the brand of sneakers your neighbor is wearing or how to buy that new Hublot watch that just came out.

We are already raising a generation of kids that are too self-possessed, too image-conscious and easily succumb to peer pressure. The need to conform is high. The need to fit in with the “cool crowd” even higher. Add to that instant gratification and we’ll soon have on our hands self entitled brats who don’t realize what it takes to achieve what they have and have no compassion for those less fortunate.

Parents today are already committing the figurative “spare the rod, spoil the child” faux pas. While I don’t condone spanking or beating your child, bending to their whims each time they throw a tantrum doesn’t exactly qualify as ideal parenting either. I remember as a child asking my dad if I could get the 56 count box of Staedtler color pencils.  I loved to color and I could barely begin to fathom the possibilities of having 3 different greens and 4 different blues to color with. It made total sense to own one and besides Saloni at school had a box of crayons with silver and gold colors. While my dad didn’t refuse to buy it outright, he said he would get it for me if I scored well (which in Dad terms is 1oo%) in Math. I remember wondering why I had to work for mine while Saloni’s dad simply bought it for her. Maybe we were poor. I didn’t want to ask.

Today as an adult, I can see that my dad was trying to imbibe in me the value of working hard to earn something. He didn’t reward every good deed or pay me for doing chores but a 100% on Math deserved a box of 56 color pencils!

Very few parents today follow this style of child rearing. There are several reasons for this behavior –

  • Both parents earn well and have an above average household income. With only 1-2 kids per family, there is ample room for discretionary spending. Yes Ty, we’ll get you that remote operated helicopter for X’mas in July!
  • They work long hours while Becky spends all day with the nanny. Guilt sets in and with it the need to provide material pleasures to fill the void created by their absence.
  • They grew up wanting something and not getting it because their parents didn’t bestow gifts on them as a token of love or there were too many siblings or they were plain poor. They justify this inadequacy by doing the exact opposite with their own kids. Buy the child everything in sight so he/she isn’t lacking.

A friend whose kids go to a private school told me the school conducted what is called “diversity training” where they compared dads’ job titles or where the kids spent their summer vacation. Umm really? We joked that it should have been named “disparity training” because that school also allows limited seats for the children of not-so-privileged parents. Their dad might be a teacher or a janitor and their summer was spent at Aunt Jenny’s house one town over. So what exactly was the point of this training? To ring home the fact that you’re not elite enough? At an age where the children are already trying to find their identity and place in this world, do you as teachers and guardians want them to think being rich is better? That having a nanny drive you to school is better than letting your mom walk you there? What values are we passing onto the future of this country?…this world? Can you imagine a hungry, rickettsia ridden child from Nigeria caring that his neighbor has a brand new toy? He might ask to play with the toy, but bet the first thought that crosses his mind is – how much food could he have gotten for the price of that toy?

Be careful what you teach your kids for they will in turn teach the generations to come and you don’t want your name to go down in the anals of history as the one who taught a kid the definition of hedonism.



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