Do you remember that time when your parents said no to something, and you tried to convince them to let you go ahead by pointing out that “so-and-so is doing it”? Or should I say, the many times, as this is a tactic that develops around age 4-5 and lasts well into the teen years. Do you have the same conversation with your child? “I don’t care what so-and-so’s doing, you’re not so-and-so.” or alternatively, “If so-and-so stuck their hand in the fire, would you do it?” These responses seem to be all I say lately.
Here’s the problem though: where does it end? I don’t want my daughter climbing the fence just because some tearaway is doing it while his mother isn’t looking. That makes sense, but what about when she comes home begging for Disney Frozen on Ice tickets? See, her best friend is going. I don’t have the money for Disney Frozen on Ice tickets – and if I took it out of our meagre Christmas budget I would have to cancel Christmas. So unfortunately, just because her friend is going, doesn’t mean she is.
As adults we have learned (hopefully) and started spreading the message that we should not be comparing ourselves to other people. We should not be lusting after that person’s new Micheal Kors handbag, or that person’s figure. We should not assume that just because other people have other, or even nicer, things, they are happier or better in some way than us. How many times have you been warned not to compare yourself to that InstaMum who looks like she has it all together?
While I actively practice not being jealous and not comparing myself to others, I can’t say I keep the same level head when it comes to my daughter. We have been the butt of a few snippy comments in the playground, after a few parents learned that my daughter (at one point) received extra school funding off the local authority. That extra funding was put towards sexual abuse counselling and play therapy, but they didn’t hear that bit; they heard government handout. When my daughter comes home from a friend’s house miserable that she is “the only one” who doesn’t have a tablet at home, or “the only one” who didn’t go to that thing/see that new film/get that new toy, I really do feel pressured to get her these things. I feel like she is being left out. I worry that she will be bullied for having less. I feel like the other parents are mocking me, and I need to prove myself to them.
On the other hand, I don’t want my daughter to be spoilt. I don’t want her to be stupid enough to think that just because her peers are doing something, she should – how will that ideology hold up against peer pressure when she’s fifteen?! I do not want her to think that just because somebody else has something, she has to have it too – be it because she thinks she deserves it or because she thinks she won’t be their equal if she doesn’t have it. I want my daughter to understand that we make the best of whatever we have, and to have more you must earn more.
So the whiney, frustrated cry of, “But Mum, SHE’S DOING IT!” is a source of serious conflict for me. Do I buy my daughter a tablet for Christmas, knowing that she will live without one and would probably get more use out of the handful of toys I won’t be able to buy alongside it? Or do I stick to my guns, that I don’t give a damn what so-and-so does on her tablet, my daughter is five years old and has no need for that kind of tech? Do I risk her friends calling her a baby if she’s still playing ice cream shop while they’re all playing iPads? Does it matter?
I have no idea, is my answer. There’s the potential for Mum Guilt on both sides. What do you think?? My daughter’s Christmas hangs in your hands! Help a girl out!