Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Show Me Some Love Daddy!! Spend The Money !!!

Teen celebrations have gotten expensive. Does showing the love always mean spending the cash?

Have you seen this show on MTV, 'My Super Sweet 16'? It's a reality series where insane parents spend piles of money throwing parties for offspring who can barely drive. According to the show--and maybe, ironically, because of it--children's coming-of-age celebrations, like weddings before them, are getting out of control. Its across the board, everyone is doing it, every race, parties and the quinceañeras (to celebrate a 15-year-old Latina's transition to womanhood) have come to rival the Grammy’s in terms of over-the-top cost and glitz. Sweet 16’s may be the worst of the bunch--it's not unheard-of to see chocolate fountains, designer dresses, wedding like cakes, live entertainment, gift bags and the child of honor's name lit up in neon, all with a price tag of from as ‘little’ as $50,000 to way way more. And the location costs more than the average person’s salary for a couple years!

I'm certain that we don't want a teenzilla living in the upstairs bedroom. But escaping the phenomenon isn't easy. We all want to mark these milestones in a way that lets our children know we're proud of their accomplishments. If you don't throw a humdinger of a fiesta, do you risk sending the message to your child that you don't love him as much as his friends' parents love their kids? And the parents who go over the top only make it harder for everyone else. "Daddy, they had Beyoncé and Kayne West at the party I went to last weekend. Can we have them/her at mine?"

There's an extreme spending level. These celebrations look so much like weddings that there's very little to indicate that it's a teen party going on. Bridezillas have been replaced by childzillas and teenzillas! The demands they place on their parents not only for the party but for the birthday present, it’s out of this world! I mean a sixteen year old wanting a $97,000 car for her birthday and saying if she does not get it she is NOT going to be happy and neither will her parents!?!? And the parents find this cute??? Flashing a smile, crying the ‘fake tears’ and the good ole temper tantrum is how you get your way today cause I mean we don’t want Jane and Bobby to be unhappy or angry! And boy oh boy if mummy and daddy are divorced, play one parent on the other! And if the folks like to outdo others, everything must be more glamorous than the neighbors, well your kids are gonna work that number on you!

Spoiled brats are what we have created! When children are given just about anything they want and as much of anything they want and when parents feel in order for their children to think they love them they need to buy them things. It also happens when they are told they are better than everyone else and should be treated better than everyone else. They grow up treating any and everyone with no respect and expect everyone to bend to their every request. Many times this originates from a parent who doesn’t spend as much time as they want with their child. Buying them things isn’t going to solve the problem. Instead make time to spend with and enjoy your children. Remember that if you can’t spend time with your child, it doesn’t improve the situation by buying them things that they really don’t need.

Others just want to avoid the hassle of a conflict with their children. It’s easier for them to let the rules slide than to deal with the fuss. For other parents, it is hard to refuse their children anything, because they don’t want them to be unhappy. Who said that “unhappy children” equals “bad parents.”???? Still others are afraid their angry children will not love them. The fact is that children want to know that their parents are in charge, they need structure and limits.

So how do you honor your child without spending the equivalent of the GDP of Togo? Talk to your kids and let them know this is how much you can afford and work from there. What is the point of incurring enormous debts for a fleeting moment under the sun? You want to give your children nice experiences, but you don't want to flush them with too much stuff. It's kind of what happens when you take drugs. Your neurons get flooded with artificial material that is beyond what you can produce naturally. You crave that experience and become dissatisfied with the rest of your life. You always have to have more to achieve a ‘high’.

What then is the price tag for love? A new car? An over the top party? Jewellery? Money? News flash: Love cannot be bought! And if you believe you can buy your children’s love and affection and peace in the home, well you better have an unlimited bank account because you are going to have to outdo the last present and last party to keep raising the numbers on the “love scale”. But for the rest of us please save and spare us from your Childzilla!