We all know that smart people can do stupid things. Politicians come to mind. So do celebrities. And then there are all of those unfortunate Darwin Award recipients, many of whom had college degrees, high-profile jobs, and managed to use the word “antidisestablishmentarianism” in conversation a few times a year.
And then, of course, there are smart parents who, unfortunately, have a propensity to do something pretty unintelligent (read: stupid) things when it comes to spending money on their kids. Here are some of the most common examples:
Buying a ridiculous amount of birthday and Christmas gifts.
The big problem with this habit is that the ROI just isn’t there. Kids who are overjoyed with one gift don’t feel overjoyed x 20 with 20 gifts. Paradoxically, the opposite happens: they get less enjoyment from each toy because there are so many. Parents caught in this gift buying vortex should try buying 1-3 gifts per occasion (e.g. birthday, Christmas, etc.), and if there is some gift-buying money left over in the budget, use it to purchase experiences instead of things. For example, a trip to the zoo could be enriching and create memories that will last a lifetime, while yet another box of toy cars is destined to end up in a crate somewhere in the corner of the basement.
Trying to cultivate a future American Idol winner.
Early childhood development experts agree that introducing kids to music, dance and singing is extremely beneficial and will pay dividends for the rest of their lives. However, some parents go nuts and over-schedule their kids — and spend tens of thousands of dollars a year — in an attempt to turn them into starlets, when neither the level of interest nor raw talent exists. Often, many of these parents are trying to fulfill their own unrealized dreams, or even worse, they are competing with other parents to see who ostensibly cares more for their child. The advice here isn’t that parents should deprive their kids of lessons and coaching. Rather, it’s to take a balanced and realistic approach. Kids only get to be kids once, and they should have fun! Alas, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to get stressed out when they’re older.
Buying instruments instead of renting them.
Parents who do not want to amass a collection of instruments that time forgot in their basement and attic should resist the temptation to purchase everything that their kids are interested in, and instead, rent them to confirm that the level of interest really exists. For example, folks in the St. Louis area who wisely don’t to spend hundreds of dollars on a brand new violin because their little one’s ears perked up while listening to an Itzhak Perlman CD, can drop in at the Manchester Music Violin Shop and rent a violin instead to confirm whether they do indeed have a budding virtuoso in the family.