Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gifts to children - be conservative or be liberal?

During his fourteenth birthday, my son's demand as a gift was that we buy him a mobile of his own. You can say we are old fashioned but yes we told him outright that he cannot have his own mobile as we did not see any need for it. He was either at school or at home. Hence why did he need one? Pat came the reply - "all my friends have it".

Well, we explained to him that there might be various reasons for his friends owning their own mobile. Maybe their parents go out to work and hence they need to be in touch with their children. But here I was not working and hence accessible any time they wanted me. His response - "not all his friends' moms work". I told him maybe his friends go to tuitions, or other coaching classes on their own hence they need it. This was also negated. Alas all my explanations were of no use and were severely quashed.

His only mantra was he needs his own mobile as his friends have it. Period. It was not just any mobile but the ones where he can listen to music was what he was looking at as his friends have these.

In these times, I guess our ideas as to what is an appropriate age for buying expensive stuff for our children is a real question mark. On one hand if we put ourselves in their shoes, it is truly a conflicting situation they are facing what with all that peer pressure. But at the same time I feel that children have to be taught restraint and must get their priorities right. Yes, many of us can afford to buy expensive stuff but in the long run I somehow place more premium on having less and enjoying more peace of mind. Being more philosophical than being too materialistic. That is the only thing that we as parents are trying to inculcate in our children. Hence many a time we end up being "No Parents". (On another note, have you ever counted the times you say 'no' to your children in a day? You will be amazed!)

I guess we would like to hold on to this as far as we can and right now things are back to normal after a gruelling session. Have you faced this conflict? If yes, how have you dealt with it?


KSJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KSJ said...

I am not a parent and was once a 15 yr old too....almost 18 yrs back. I would say that you have a choice -- to look short term or long term. I know that my parents faced many such choices too and more often than not they were also 'no parents' Now when I look back, I realize that they taught me values which are an important reason why I am happy today.

1. If I had everything then today material possessions probably would have only meant happiness to me. Which in-tuen would have made me more miserable because I would only have less as I keep on having more.
2. I also do see their point now and realize how right they were. Invest in what they will think of you when they will be your age and a parent and not what they think today.

I am not a parent nor a not sure how much this is relevant; its a different viewpoint nonetheless.


shobhana shenoy said...

Thanks for your comment.It is indeed heartening to read it. Yes as one becomes more mature in their outlook going through the lessons of life we appreciate things and thank people who have contributed to our upbringing.
But then I guess each one of us has to travel that distance and will only then get a clear perspective. Until then parents and children together have to go through this maze and unravel a lot of things don't they?

Anonymous said...

Dear Shobhana,
One thing I must say that you are writing issues that every teenager's parents are facing. They are real issues. I have 13 year old daughter and I went thru' the same thing almost a year ago.Like you we both argued against her but at last we cave in. I believe the forces of changes are too strong to swim against it. Also, teenage is very funny age as kids are going through many changes. Many times, we become more idealist and ignore the real issues. Also, I have observed that teenagers get bored very easily with the same thing. Just think what would have been the outcome if you would have surprized him with a cell phone on his birthday? Do you think his demands will stop as he grows up? I don't think so. You don't want to create a digital divide between them and us. They always think of us as a geek or orthodox. So relax a bit. Infact, you can turn this thing around by regulating pocket money and make them successful user of the technology.
There is no right or wrong. You have to go by the situation or try to put yourself into their shoes.

shobhana shenoy said...

Dear Anonymous,
Thanks for your comment. Guess all teenage parents are in the same boat. True as you said it never stops with one thing the list is never ending. By virtue of being born in an era of boom seems to have made children think that money is no issue. Well me thinks we all have to handle things as and when we face to the best of our ability.

Paramjit said...

Hi Shobhna,

At the outset, Congratulations on your century of blogs!!! Just got onto it thru Dhruv's FB status.

Chose this as the first blog to read coz' we as parents also go thru the same, day in and day out.

However, to inculcate value system, deprivation may not be the ideal method. What we do is, we provide our young son (12+years) with most that he asks for. We also withdraw them as 'punishment' on wrong behaviors or casual approach to studies (not always link to grades).

It seems that it is working, coz' he realizes the same and never asks / pleads to get it back, until we decide that when can he get it back.

shobhana shenoy said...

Hi Paramjit,
At the outset thanks. I guess this is something which we might have to try. This is an approach that I have never tried before.
Will definitely try it out and hope it will be as successful in my case as it has been in yours.