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Leaving Kids At Home When School Shopping?

September 9, 2011 · 112 comments

in Misc Tips, Parenting, Personal Finance

I think  I need to stop reading articles on the internet to save my sanity.

So I was looking around Yahoo Finance and I saw an article from the Associated Press titled  “Children excluded from school shopping?”.

The gist of the article is this:  Parents aren’t bringing their kids school shopping because kids want expensive school supplies and ‘cool’ things.  So, the parents are sneaking out and buying school supplies alone, or ordering them online.

My Personal Message To Parents:


Oh my gosh, I cannot stand to read stories like this.  One mom in the article took her child back-to-school shopping, and the child really wanted a pair of $8 titanium scissors from Staples because they looked so cool.  Instead of buying the cool scissors, mom went out like a thief in the night and bought a $3 pair of scissors at Wal-Mart.  (Congratulations Mom, for not giving in and buying ‘cool’ scissors.  Heaven help us all that scissors now have to be purchased behind our children’s back.)

Kids Also Are Left At Home Because Parents Know The Kids Won’t Want To Go Store-To-Store Comparison Shopping??

I cannot imagine not taking my kids with me when shopping for school clothes.  Since my kids are all teens now, I am sure the sizes would be all wrong if I just pulled them off the rack and brought them home.  The last thing I feel like doing with my time is buying  a bunch of clothes for my kids, beg them to try them on, and then take them all back because they fit wrong.  I wouldn’t care if my kids begged me for every fashionable thing out there when shopping, I would just say ‘no’ repeatedly, and drag then around from store to store trying to find items at a reasonable price.  Fact is, I don’t care if my kids complain.  If I am going to buy them clothes and other items they need for school, then they can spend an afternoon of their life trying on clothes they will wear during the school year. Basically, until one of my kids pays me to be their personal shopper, they are coming with me, and if they complain, then that is one less item they will be getting.

General Tips For Parents:

OK, I have come up with a few things parents should do so that they do not create entitled, whiny adults.  They are as follows:

  1. You are the adult, and you should always demand respect.  Don’t let your kids tell you what to do.
  2. You are a parent and not a best friend. Sure it is great to have a good relationship with your child, but there still needs to be boundaries so the child does listen to you and respect you as an elder.  If you spend all your time being their best buddy, then there is a good chance that you will have a hard time really disciplining them when it comes to some of the real important things in life that can have life long consequences.  (Drinking, smoking, skipping school, etc.)  In essence, it is OK if your child does not ‘like’ you every minute of your relationship.
  3. Ignore ‘pressure’ to buy what the child wants.  Until your child has a job and can buy what they want, they should have limited say in what is purchased.
  4. Talk to your kids about your financial situation.  Many families have gone through real financial crises over the last few years.  If your kids are used to getting whatever they want and suddenly they can’t, then you shouldn’t be surprised if they throw a fit if you say no to their request to buy them hundred dollar shoes. If your finances are tight, you need to explain that to the kids.  (If your finances are not tight, you should still discuss finances with your kids.)  Every aspect of life can be a learning experience.  Showing your children how to save money and stretch a dollar can be a very valuable, lifelong lesson.
  5. If you haven’t spoiled your kids already, then don’t ever spoil them.   (If you have spoiled them, it is never too late to undo it, but make sure you communicate and explain why the child is suddenly not getting everything they want.)
  6. Live like money is tight all the time, whether it is or not.  I am not saying you should live like you are on the brink of bankruptcy.  However, if you spend like each dollar is truly valuable and not just something to toss around, then thatexamplewill hopefully carry into adulthood for your children.
  7. Take your kids shopping with you.  Show the kids how using coupons and shopping during off season sales can really save a lot of money.  Have them help you make decisions on what is a good deal and what isn’t. Get them in the mindset that most items do not have to be bought that minute, but can be purchased when either a coupon comes in the mail or the item goes on sale.  If you can eliminate impulsive shopping habits in your kids now, you will be doing them a huge favor later.
So, do you do all the shopping for your child because you don’t want to deal with the whining?  Or, do you tell them to suck it up and take them with you?
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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Receivable Collections September 9, 2011 at 7:19 am

This is really good idea.I think most of us don’t take our kids on shopping because they get tired very soon and they find it very troublesome to go shop to shop.So if we follow these steps we can get a lot of help for shopping next time


Kris September 9, 2011 at 8:07 am

If the kids are little and can’t handle going store to store, then they probably don’t need to be dragged around. However, I think the article was pointing more towards teens, who should have the ability to shop for a few hours.


101 Centavos September 9, 2011 at 7:59 am

One AP article does not a trend make, but perhaps many articles on the same topic do. Chalk one up to parents being unable or unwilling to control/discipline their kids.
Not to get on the virtuous high horse, but we’re pretty much in the suck-it-up camp.


Kris September 9, 2011 at 8:06 am

I think I was on the virtuous high horse. The thing is, when I was a kid, you got a nice new box of crayons for school and some Elmer’s glue for the new school year, and that was all I ever expected. (Except for some clothes, assuming I grew…)


Niki September 9, 2011 at 8:41 am

One of the nicest compliments I ever received was from my father-in-law who was so impressed by the fact that when he took our kids to the store and were looking at toys they never asked for anything. For some reason that really flabbergasted him.

I take my children shopping for school clothes, but this year they weren’t there when I bought the supplies. It’s just the way it worked out. But I am with you, there should be no reason why a parent should be ashamed/scared/whatever to say no to their children. Ridiculous. This is probably where all those self entitled people are coming from. 🙂


Kris September 12, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I remember meeting a lot of those self-entitled people in college. I remember what girl was so mad her parents wouldn’t drive up to school to pick her up and take her back home to see a Jack Wagner concert of all things. I was only 18 and I wanted to smack her myself.

I bet that compliment from your father in law did feel good!


Ashley @ Money Talks September 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm

YES! Once my daughter, who was about 4 at the time, wanted a coloring book from the grocery stor and I told her no so she went up to a stranger and asked them! And they said yes! It was a little old lady, grandma type. I was horrified. I told the lady no, she couldn’t buy it for my daughter.

But, on topic, first off, I always shop with a list and if it’s not on the list, we ain’t buying it and the kids know it. secondly, if they want a more expensive version of something I point out the difference in price and try to explain why we are getting the cheaper ones. Too bad if they don’t like it, but my kids don’t throw fits about it anymore since fit throwing has never worked.


Kris September 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Oh my goodness, I can’t imagine what that was like for your daughter to ask the elderly woman. What a great story! I bet your daughter will be successful at whatever career she chooses!

So what would you say if a young child came up to you and asked you to buy them something?

My kids know that if it isn’t on sale, I won’t be buying it. They don’t ask for much, it is usually a certain cereal or something. I understand that because I get sick of the same cereal everyday too. They know that cookies and candy are off limits though, I would much rather bake. (That is just me though)


krantcents September 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm

My parent were well off and I did not know it. They always told me I would get what I needed not what I wanted. It made an impression on me. It probably helped me become more successful. I am very happy with less, but good quality products.


Kris September 12, 2011 at 4:30 pm

That is neat that you didn’t know how well off your parents were. That was very smart of them. Otherwise, family (not you) might have come after them for money too (assuming they kept it a secret from everyone). I am always fascinated by the people that end up with an amazing fortune and nobody had any idea.


MoneyCone September 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Excellent tips Kris! I especially liked : You are a parent and not a best friend.

Trouble brews for anyone who thinks otherwise!


Jon - Free Money Wisdom September 11, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Amen. That was one of my favorite things in the article–“you are a parent and not a best friend.” Kids are not to run the house–parents needs to quit thinking they have to be cool and need to start demanding respect. They also need to be taught the value of a dollar and that they can’t always get what they want. Great post! Loved it.


Kris September 12, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Thanks Jon. I am shocked when I hear how kids talk to their parents and when I see how parents give in so much. I have seen situations where it is almost the parents are afraid of the kids.


Kris September 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm

You are so right MC. I know you have a little one, imagine what life would be like for that child if you said ‘yes’ to everything. Sure in the short term, life would be pretty peaceful. However, you would have created an entitled, bratty monster. However, I know you already know that.

Parenting is definitely not easy!


Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager September 9, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Lisa Frank > Solid colored binders. Any day of the week. The child in me still agrees with that. However, they do tend to get stolen more often…

Totally agree on the parent and not best friend statement. Definitely see that as a growing trend these days.


Kris September 12, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I didn’t know Lisa Frank folders came in solid colors. The only Lisa Frank things my daughter had seemed to have multi-colored designs. Am I imagining things?


Invest It Wisely September 10, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I know adults that are like this with their boyfriends! One of the best articles I’ve read from you (Though in truth I enjoy everything you write). Definitely going to be sharing this with some people…


Kris September 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Thank you Kevin! I figured people who didn’t have kids wouldn’t be as interested in this post! I am really glad you liked it.


Andrea @MoneyMastered September 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I didn’t take my son back to school shopping, but not because I’m worried about having to tell him no. He simply doesn’t have any interest in picking out his school supplies (sometimes I think he’s adopted because I LOVE buying them!) and it’s faster to go grab everything myself. I also order his clothes and shoes online for the most part, though he does sit with me for that.

I can’t imagine leaving him at home simply because I couldn’t stand up to him. My son knows we live on a budget, and he knows it’s pointless to ask for things because I’ll just tell him to use his allowance if it’s a want instead of a need. Too many people try to be their kids’ friends.


Kris September 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Andrea- I love all school supplies. Pens, pencils, paper, you name it. I have always had this fascination with stationery products. So when school sales start, I get so excited. All those inexpensive pens and such!

Sounds like you are doing a great job with your son!


Barb Friedberg September 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Since we only have one child, I was obsessed with not spoiling her. So far, I think I succeeded! Parent for the long term, eventually the results will speak for themselves (unless genetics wins out) :).


Kris September 12, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Very good thoughts Barb. So many people (politicians included) only think about the short term and react to every situation like the world is ending tomorrow. Strategic or long-term thinking takes the back seat. Gotta make everyone happy now! I am sure your daughter is a wonderful person.


The Biz of LIfe September 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Whenever my wife went school shopping without kids, she always spent less.


Kris September 12, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Maybe the kids just remembered more things they needed when they went along?


Matt Wegner @ Financial Excellence September 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Thank you for reminding parents to… be the parents! I’m tired of watching parents who act like they’re bullied by the kids and give in to every demand.


Kris September 12, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Then you better close your eyes whenever you are in a store with teenagers! (Or really anywhere anymore it seems.) I guess I must just be old school, but I am shocked by how many parents just nod their heads at every request their child has, it is so sad. I know what would have happened if I mouthed off like kids do today. I didn’t even think the mean thoughts that many kids say to their parents. Its a scary world.


First Gen American September 12, 2011 at 1:21 am

I am so paranoid of spoiling my kids. I may even talk about money with my 6 year old a little too much because he’s now liking to have it just for the sake of having something for a rainy day. We didn’t even go back to school shopping for clothes this year. We bought 1 pair of sneakers for my son and no clothes. He’s due for a growth spurt and I would rather wait til stuff doesn’t fit him than buy something at a set time of year.

We have a rule that we don’t shop for “stuff” outside of groceries, etc unless something is broken or outgrown. Shopping as recreation is almost never done in our house except in the form of going to tag sales.

Great great advice. For clothes, do your kids have a budget? How do they know what’s acceptable to pick out?


Kris September 12, 2011 at 11:18 am

My kids have zero budget for clothes, we just buy them on an as needed basis. My kids don’t really care what brand their clothes are (Levis are just fine), so if they need something, we get it. It really helps that my kids do not try to keep up with the latest fashion, function works just fine for them. If they thought othewise, there would definitely be a budget. I tend to spend a little more on my daughter because it is hard to find pants that fit her, so sometimes I might have to pay full price if something comes up last minute.


Ben @ BankAim September 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I love to spoil my kids sometimes but you said it well “YOUR KIDS DO NOT RUN THE HOUSE AND YOU ARE ALLOWED TO SAY NO TO THEM.” My kids know when I say no it means no. There has to be a fine balance between spoiling and saying no. When it comes to clothes for school, my kids definitely get what they need. With so much peer pressures on looking fashionable, I find it keeps my kids from getting teased just by having the latest fashion. Looking at old pictures I can’t believe my parents would dress me the way they did.. no wonder why I got teased


Kris September 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm

We are lucky in that the school where my kids go, fashion doesn’t really matter. Everyone just wear what they want for the most part. However, I know most schools are not like that at all. It is a fine line between over spending, and almost protecting your children from the mean kids out there (and I am serious). Nobody wants to be teased for their looks or what they wear, and if you can prevent that, I get it.


international school review March 26, 2012 at 1:47 am

As a mother, it depends on the situation, it is not always right that whatever the kids say you’ll give in. That is why, there is the reason for everything that is base on discipline and love. We as a parent would not do a thing to hurt our children. All we want is to prepare you to the pressures and demands of life and that you will be on the right track always.

Great article, had learned something. Thanks 🙂 Keep sharing your feelings and thoughts.


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