Friday, February 13, 2009
When saying "No" is going to start a war...
...or...it is a good thing parenting isn't a popularity contest.
Superman and I have come to a decision that is going to make Valiant (especially) and Buttercup extremely unhappy. I might even be so bold as to say that are going to be angry, rail at how unfair we are, how out of touch we are, and how generally how unreasonable we are. There will be tears and foot stomping, but to no avail...we have decided and that is going to be that.
What will this epic battle be over? Something simple, really. We have decided that we will not let the children spend any more of their money (gifted or hard-earned) on Webkinz - period. Why? Because after careful consideration, the Webkinz business model, like Pokemon and YuGiOh before it, is in direct conflict with the values we are trying to instill in our children. Namely, more is not always better, just because something is popular doesn't make it worthwhile, and buying something today just because it won't have be available tomorrow isn't a good enough reason.
Webkinz is a worldwide phenomenon. Webkinz is also, in my opinion, a racket that my children (and millions of other children) cheerfully throw their money into. For those of you lucky enough to not know about Webkinz, let me explain how it works: You have to buy a certain type of stuffed animal (a Webkinz) to get a code that allows you to play an online game. Once you are online, the more animals you have, the more access you have to the game. Then, to add to the mix, they have web-only animals (that's right, no toy) that cost just as much as one of the stuffed animals that give you more and a different access to the game. The kicker? The stuffes animals cost between $8 and $16 EACH. After Christmas, my children used a large portion of their Christmas money to buy these Webkinz - do the math, they each have four or five of these things - and, at that point, I put a stop to it. Enough is enough, I thought, we're done. Well, here we are, less than two months later, and they need more Webkinz and we're going to tell them "no".
Now, don't get me wrong. Up to a certain extent, I am completely in favor of spending a small percentage of your income on entertainment and I am not going to decide for you what entertainment you choose (obviously, within reason). At this point, however, winter is almost over. Internet time is winding down, and I think this is a poor use of their money. So, Valiant is going to pull the "it is my birthday card" because he'll be 13 on Monday and Buttercup is going to pull the "friends are doing it, too" card to no avail.
When I'm tempted to give in, I'll just remember that my job is not to be their best buddy, their nicest friend, or a generous aunt. No, my job is to raise capable adults who have the skills to lead adult lives, even if the journey isn't always fun. It is a good thing parenting is not a popularity contest because I don't think I'll get anyone's vote this weekend.