Back to School 1: shopping

girls who love to dress up can be encouraged to do it without moms and dads interference. Girls can learn to make good fashion choices. Stay out of their way. Teach them self-discipline and good decision making in Boston, Mass. through chores. Chores will teach them how to make good choices. Clothing and back to school shopping can be done without arguments.
My oldest daughter Casey chose black patent leather Mary Janes as her school shoes in first grade.

One of the most difficult parenting lessons I had to learn was to allow my kids free choice. I wanted them to do what I WANTED! When I started taking parenting workshops, the leader, a savvy mom of five kids advised, “If your daughter wants to choose black patent leather Mary Janes as her school shoes, let her.”

I hated this advice, but I knew that like most of what I learned in the workshops, I was wrong for wanting Casey to choose sensible school shoes for first grade. It helped to know other parents faced the same dilemma and allowed their daughter to make their own decisions so they could learn self-trust, and the natural consequences of their choices.
Casey wore those black patent leather shoes daily  with a dress, which she loved, along with Barbies. No, I was not the kind of parent to prohibit Barbies or guns. Moderation is better than creating forbidden fruits.
Childhood is all about learning to making good decisions, establishing self-trust, confidence and nurturing a child’s self-esteem. Allowing them to choose their own clothing as much as possible is empowering. We might not always agree, but parents have enough bigger issues than clothing to worry about. Clothing is costume. Character  counts.

I had many arguments over back-to-school shopping with my two daughters until I realized how to avoid it. I put “school shopping” on the family meeting agenda [see free tip sheet] in August. We negotiated a reasonable budget for clothes and what type I’d pay for. They planned to bring “their own money” to supplement. It’s fun to see what they’re willing to spend their money on.

I’ve wasted many dollars convincing them to buy something I liked, only to see it in the give-away bag later. Sigh. I eventually learned to respect their opinions, especially when it came to clothes. Like all lessons worth learning, I paid the price.

Today, I love to go shopping at a thrift store with my daughters. We find some wonderful fun bargains along with clothes I would never pay full-price for. We have fun. They give me honest feedback on what looks good and what doesn’t. They could have more tact in this area.  If your kids love clothes, money can stretch a long way at thrift stores.

The second part of back-to-school shopping is school supplies. I swear by L.L. Bean backpacks from the return department with botched custom embroidery. These backpacks wear like iron for multiple years.

We argued over school supplies because the kids always wanted to buy everything new. After school starts, review the lists of supplies sent home by teachers and have a family meetings. Figure out what supplies you already have or can be purchased second-hand, like the T-111 calculator for high school math that costs $80+. After scrounging around the house,  agree on another budget and shop the sales together.

Learning to set a budget and live within your means is a valuable lesson. My four kids are 23-30 years old, have NO credit card debt and live within their income. The ones who earn more spend more. The ones who earn less spend less. They have money for what’s important, like Mary Janes.

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Explore posts in the same categories: allowances, mother-daughter, mutual respect, natural consequences, positive parenting, set boundaries, teenagers

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2 Comments on “Back to School 1: shopping”


  1. So you didn’t want me to get those shoes because they weren’t practical… but I wore them every day, so they sound pretty practical!! :-)

  2. raisingable Says:

    Moms can learn SO MUCH from daughters!
    and I still do.


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