Back to School 1: shopping
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 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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