When my son developed a desire for brand-name clothing, Tommy Hilfiger was very big at his city school. My husband mocked people who wore large brand-names on their shirts, often musing, "The company should pay HIM to advertise their product on his chest." So our kids had a steady diet of this sentiment. On the other hand, middle school peers are really mean, and woe to the kid who wears dopey clothes. As a parent, this was a complete clash of values. I did not want my child to be stigmatized because of my anti-consumerism hoity toity ideas. But on the other hand I didn't want to completely surrender to the Gods of Materialism.
One way to address the problem worked well. When he needed new clothes we would head to Marshalls, which carried a mix of no-name clothes and designer duds. Having established that he needed a whatever, we would compare the cost of a decent quality non-name brand with the designer version, which was usually about 30% more. If Zach opted for the designer version, he paid the difference. Looking back this seems a little mean, since he didn't have a lot of money, but then again - he didn't have a lot of expenses. If I were doing it again, I would give a clothing allowance which could be spend on the brandname differential or pocketed. That would make the choice even clearer.
In any event, for awhile he went with the Tommy Hilfigers and the Timberlands et al. Thankfully he finished the branded-clothes phase a couple years later and discovered the wonder of thrift stores: better clothes for less money.
This son, by the way, is now a financial educator. Brag! Brag!
What strategies do you employ to align your kids' consumption with your values?
Image from www.youregood.com.au
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Posted by Betsy Teutsch at 10:49 AM