Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas ; Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas
Ironside, Virginia, The Independent (London, England)
We are well-off, but I'm not comfortable with excessive materialism. How do I tell my 15-year-old daughter that she can't have everything she asks for? Although she sees me occasionally buying expensive cosmetics or clothes for myself, I still feel it's wrong to buy her the latest mobile or designer clothes. She has everything she really needs.
Yours sincerely, Chloe
The world of the rich seems to be divided into two camps. One camp consists of those who believe that it's right to buy their children anything they want, from the latest trainers to a flat in Belgravia ("to give them a start in life"). They feel: "Well, she's going to inherit pots of money from me when I die, so we might as well get her used to the good life early on."
Then there's the other camp, the people who believe in shooing their children out to work on aper round and who want to teach them - rather disgusting phrase - "the value of money". These are the people who say: "I started off with only tuppence and a cardboard box, and look at me now! Why should my children have any of the advantages I never had?"
Chloe will have to decide in which camp she falls.
As a just-post-war baby, brought up on the habit of "waste not, want not" - ironing Christmas paper from other people's presents and reusing it, hoarding pieces of string and never being able to resist peering into skips "just in case" (I got two lovely garden chairs from a skip only last week, actually) - I am, in theory anyway, of the "children must learn about money simply as a lesson, not a punishment" school of thought. At the same time, I know I couldn't resist giving any child of mine wads of money if they needed it and I could afford it, simply on the basis of the: "They'll get it one day, so why not now?" principle.
But, unless the child is destined to be a fully fledged trustafarian who will never have to work in her life, then 15 is a good age to start getting her into the swing of a bit of scrimping and saving. It's no bad thing not to "take the waiting out of wanting", as one advertisement for credit cards used to run. Waiting adds to the joy of getting it in the end.
So, if I were Chloe, I'd give my daughter some decent pocket money, or even a little allowance out of which she can choose either to pay her bus fare to school or walk, buy a coffee or keep the money to save up for a mobile. If Chloe wants it both ways, she could say that she's prepared to contribute to the phone, but only on condition that her daughter saves a certain amount herself. She could also help by paying her for particularly grisly chores she might do around the house. At 15, it's right that her daughter should have more control over her money and not rely constantly on hand-outs from her parents.
As for Chloe feeling guilty about spending money on herself now and again, that's ridiculous. She - or her partner - has presumably earned the money that they spend, and they already have all the things they really need, so it's understandable that they splash out occasionally.
It sounds to me as if she is rather uncomfortable having so much money herself anyway, so I wonder why, then, she doesn't give some of it away. Materialism isn't just about buying loads of useless stuff: it's also about having oodles of useless lolly lying around in the bank.
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Publication information: Article title: Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas ; Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas. Contributors: Ironside, Virginia - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: July 3, 2007. Page number: Not available. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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