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The privileged child parent’s lament

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It is a world of Starbucks, iPhones, YouTube and Uggs. Or not the whole world, just ours. The middle suburban class of North America.

The privileged child parent's lament by Frugalista Blog

I don’t know exactly when this awkward transition of our culture started that went from cool novelty gadgets, to advanced science fiction at our fingertips on a constant.

If you’re like me as a parent in this time of ours, you might sometimes think you’ve created a monster. That all the things you said you’d never do as a parent, you do now without even thinking twice.

Do you feel like you’ve given in? Or did you just give up years ago and not realize? Maybe the fight is already over and there isn’t anything to give in to.

Like the Starbuck’s drive-thru, for instance. It absolutely irks me when my children get grumpy over the fact that I won’t get them Starbucks for breakfast. There’s a number of reasons why I don’t just hop in my car and drive the quarter mile down the street to the drive-thru and get them their favorite cheese danish and vanilla bean Frappuccino every morning. Cost. It’s $10 a pop for both kids every time I do that. Logistics. Maybe I’m still in my pajamas and I don’t want to leave the house. Scruples. I feel absolutely awful for going the easy and expensive route at every whim my child has.

But how did we get to this point? If I demanded McDonald’s as a child and expected my parents to administer to my beck and calls as frequently as my children do, I’d a had another thing coming! When I was a kid, McDonald’s was a treat. It wasn’t a staple.

On some mornings I have gotten Starbucks for my kids because I wanted it too. Because we already were in the car. Because maybe, it had been a busy morning and it’s a nice treat. There- a treat. Trust me kids, mom wants a pecan tart and caramel macchiato every morning too, but we just have to deal! You can’t have Christmas every day. So you can’t have Starbucks every day. My rules.

The way we’ve created much of our convenient drive through food establishments as staples because we spend the majority of our time in our cars, isn’t really our fault. Or it is because we’ve made that bed for ourselves with our schedules, and now we have to sleep in that proverbial bed?

And I don’t mean to just pick on Starbucks. Let’s talk about smart phones. We have smart phones in our family. All three of us. Owen hasn’t gotten one yet. It’s an 11th birthday right of passage. Once they’re off to middle school, life is easier when your child has its own modern day honing device, complete with GPS and messaging. That’s pretty much what it is in my opinion.

Emma has had her cell phone for about 3 years and has used it for the greater good and not evil. Thankfully. She has had a smart phone for the last year of those 3 years. Does she spend a bajillion hours on that thing? Yes? Do I do on mine? Guilty.

So until I set mine aside, I can’t really expect her to ditch hers, right?

And then when you do get your kid a smart phone, it’s not like their FRIENDS’ smart phone. Or it doesn’t have unlimited data, or it’s not the upgrade like little Jimmy got. Waa waa waa. Call the whambulance.

Oh for Pete’s sake!! You got a smart phone dammit. Stop your bitching!

Maybe this isn’t just a problem from this era. Maybe long long ago, Cassius was upset because Antonius got a better abacus. Maybe Fauntleroy teased all his friends over the gold pocket watch he got. And little Abigail always got the fanciest curds and whey before heading off to school while the other kids just got regular old porridge.

It’s just that fine line of making things nice enough for your kids, but keeping them from over indulging.

Remember the scene in This is 40 when the parents are telling the kids to limit electronics? And they tell Sadie the 13 year old, to build a fort with her friends, and Paul Rudd says, ‘go find a hoop and beat it with a stick down the street.’

Oh if only our kids just played with rocks and sticks again.

I guess we’re just going to have to actually PARENT the little buggers. Set boundaries, tell them no. Even when they hate us for it. God parenting is hard.




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  1. Kids don’t need to be made different, some name brands need to be gotten, electronics need to be gotten … etc… and thru it all ‘parenting’ precious precious parenting needs doing, it never ends, you make mistakes, sometimes we over indulge, sometimes we don’t indulge enough, it’s like walking a tightrope at times…..
    How not to leave scars from childhood for them to spend years working thru, not the physical ones….
    the joy comes in later years as a parent hears ‘I remember thus and so’ …. and occasionally the parent says ‘what, that never was said……so we must choose ones words carefully, cause they never forget…. no name calling…cause they never forget….. but all the love in the world, whilst tempering them in all the right directions….

  2. Parenting IS hard, yo!! I swear we go in cycles … everything will be great, everyone gets along, kids are fun and appreciative, then something shifts in the cosmos and I’m a dumbass who doesn’t know anything except how to boss two kids around and only ever hound them about doing chores while making their lives miserable. And just about the time I’m ready to go ballistic, two sweet, fun teenagers come back to my house. (I’ve noticed the more they get the more they expect and don’t seem to appreciate as much. Hmmmmm, I know how to fix that!!)


  3. Totally agree. No manual, no rule book. Convenience food is, well, convenient, but I hate that the kids EXPECT these things that used to be, like you said, a treat.

  4. Excellent post. Your last paragragh captured the truth so well–gah. This is so hard. Was just thinking through the convenience and ease of running through a drive-through at lunch today when I read this and ruing not only the cost but the fact that my kids now expect such things–and they are only 2 & 4. I am screwed.

    • Oh yes. I remember drive-thrus on a regular basis at that age! Then they start expecting it and will turn their noses up at grilled cheese at home. The little devils.

  5. We had to make a choice at one point. Move so our dear daughters went to a high school that may have been bettter but was filled with the children of privlidged parents? Or stay where we were and (gasp!) allow our children to go to school with a much higher percentage of children from under privilidged households? We chose to stay where we were and it was the best choice we could have made. No whining about clothes from the mall because no one had them. Expensive shoes? Nope. They wanted Payless, because, again that is where everyone got their shoes. They have seen thier friends live a life of economic struggle (and we have done our best in unabtrusive ways to brings experiances to these kids lives). And these othre families have added to our lives by sharing of themselves with my kids. And all of that has been a priceless lesson for my children.

    • I have so many friends that do the move schools thing to get out of where we are here, which is a high percentage of low income families. I don’t think I could handle some uppity fancy neighborhood! But they still all go to Starbucks!