Mom and Dad Go Broke for Ungrateful Kids?

As parents, we want to see our kids happy and seeing their sweet little faces open their gifts every Christmas is, to quote MasterCard, priceless. It’s what we go to work for every other day out of the year. This year, parents found themselves looking for ways to get the latest iPad, smartphones or even cars for their little angels. Unfortunately, they’re now facing new credit card debt and a houseful of ungrateful brats. What should parents do?

The Brats

First, before we delve into what financial counselors say, take a look at a few of these tweets rounded up by Twitchy (note: we’re publishing these as they appeared on Twitter, but with a few of the words altered – use your imagination):

another year that i get sh*t for Christmas.—
-YAMi ZOONiGGA ; December 25, 2012

I’m not trying to be a brat but my mom didn’t get me one thing I asked for and she got me an iPad, I don’t need this thing #areyouthinking December 25, 2012

and my mom went directly against me. she asked me if I wanted the black or white iPad. I said white, of course. tell me why mine is black..? December 25, 2012

I still can’t f**king understand why the f**k they got me that. I asked and they said “I thought you liked them”.—
VAH-LARRY! December 25, 2012

This kid wasn’t finished though. She followed up with:

Seriously, my parents could of given me anything else. But they hot me the one thing I didn’t want. An iPad.— December 25, 2012

The Parents Speak

While we didn’t speak to the parents of these young people, we did conduct our own informal poll. The parents we did speak to shared many of the same sentiments.

Look, I pay my Visa and Discover cards off every April when I get my tax refund check. My wife and I are careful that we don’t carry balances the rest of the year until the holidays. If I came across a tweet like any of those from my two sons, I’d take them away from. Period. And to be sure my wife didn’t overrule me, I’d remove them from the house and donate them if I couldn’t return them for a credit on my cards.

David from Enid, Oklahoma

If I have to work to pay for them and they take to Facebook or Twitter and complain – all bets are off. I’d take every one of them back and dare any of my kids to say one word.

Tara from South Carolina

They’d get onions, wrapped up all pretty. Simple as that.

Dave from Spokane, Washington

Avoiding the Problem

There are some tried and true methods parents have put into place in our increasingly materialistic world of credit card charges, cash and rewards programs. Here’s a nice round up of child psychologists as well as financial counselors:

Don’t encourage your kids to plunder online or through catalogs to make a ‘wish list’. If you can’t afford the kind of tastes they have, they’re going to be frustrated to find nothing they asked for under the tree. Instead, consider who your kids are, what their interests are and what they will enjoy and benefit from most.

Be the example. Work towards ensuring they know how important the memories are – and begin this at an early age. There are parents of teenagers right now, around the world reading this, and rolling their eyes. The sooner you start, though, the better the odds are of them not having a massive blow out on Christmas morning. In fact, stick with tradition with some of your efforts. Bake cakes together, create new traditions. One mother of a now-22 year old son has a series of photos, taken over the years, of her son sitting on the kitchen counter with the mixer paddles covered with red velvet cake batter.

I have probably 15 of those photos taken at different ages, but always at Christmas. They’re so special to me and I didn’t know how special they were to him until he came in with a red velvet cake for my birthday this past year.

Remember though – don’t combine “things” with your efforts. Don’t go shopping every year to buy a new ring or “big” gift; you might be setting up a new tradition, but it’s one centered around material things.

This is another fine reason why parents should consider introducing their little ones to financial obligations and responsibilities. If they understand all that swag doesn’t come free and that Mom and Dad must work for it, then the sooner they’ll better appreciate the things they do have. Of course, you can’t explain a credit card APR to an eight year old, but you can explain that just because it’s a small plastic card, there aren’t financial considerations and repercussions for irresponsible use of that credit card. Same thing with a checking account – they equate it to a slip of paper traded for that new toy. Help them make the connection. The last thing you want is to find one of your son’s or daughter’s tweets in a post like this – but you’re the one who can ensure they grow up to be a bit more grateful for what they have.

Of course, you could send them to the uncle who makes them work on the farm or the great aunt who still believes a sunrise breakfast is always followed up with chores and who doesn’t necessarily believe technology is a must -have in today’s society. A more realistic option, though, is the fact that some parents are tempering their generosity with requirements that their teens spend a little time in a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen while making a difference in the lives of those who really have few material possessions.

Have you ever taken away a gift or punished your child for being rudely unappreciative? Share your story with us and let us know how you handled it.

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