My husband and I find ourselves in a quandary. I’m reaching out to you because you sometimes offer such questions to a panel, and I’m hoping you will do the same here.
My husband is a rebbe and I work in a school office. Our income is enough for basics but certainly not for luxuries. We have tried to raise our children to understand the difference between needs and wants, as well as the importance of living financially responsible lives. For the most part, we have always thought we were successful. This summer, however, we are starting to doubt that we can stick to our values, and even whether we should.
I never went to summer camp growing up, and I have great memories of making backyard day camps. Our oldest daughter, who is 13, is working in a day camp, and she has been complaining nonstop about how unfair it is that all of her friends are having a blast in camp while she is working hard. My sister, who is much more comfortable financially than we are, overheard her and is now telling me that I am making a serious mistake. She says she thinks our parents were unfair not to give us the camp experience, adding that you’re only a kid once and that she’s sad she missed out. She says that today we can’t do with our kids as our parents did with us, expecting us to take babysitting jobs and pay for things we need.
Unfortunately, she’s not exactly willing to pick up the tab!
My question has three parts:
1. Is it okay to tell kids we can’t afford what everyone else has, or
do I need to borrow money or take extra jobs just to keep up with
2. Where do I draw the line between needs and wants? If I somehow
manage to come up with the money to send her to camp, what happens
when she decides she “needs” other things that everyone else has, from custom
linen sets to real jewelry for a graduation present?
3. Wasn’t our parents’ approach the right way to raise children? And, if so,
should we do what’s right or should we follow the herd mentality because it’s less risky?