HUNTINGTON, Unix Engineer, Fletcher Allen Health Care
Stepdaughter Aislinn, 13; daughter Bailey, 12; son Gabriel, 10
When we shop for clothes, I've usually got a price in mind. I don't want to spend $200 on two pairs of jeans, so I'll say, "This is where we can go. This is what we can get."
For Christmas, we have a dollar amount in mind for each of them, and we try to stick to it. We may go a little over or under. Bailey's gotten into filming. My wife, Kelly, and I decided, "Let's get her an inexpensive camera now and see where she goes with it." It gave her the experience she wanted.
We don't take expensive vacations. We've been talking about getting a pop-up camper and going to Maine. We do make exceptions, and we are likely to pay more for experiences. Recently, we went to the Pump House at Jay Peak and we all had fun. Times like that are worth their weight in gold.
BURLINGTON, Attorney, Monaghan, Safer and Ducham
Daughter Elsa, 11; son Henry, 8
Our kids have been pretty good; their demands aren't too huge. But they're at an age where they can't totally comprehend that the pocketbook is limited. We go on some pretty good vacations, but they're not always the most exotic vacations. We have to explain to the kids that if somebody went to Asia for six months — well, that would be awesome, but we have to work.
My son, Henry, wants a Wii or Xbox, but we think he gets enough screen time as it is. I think you need to steer your kids toward stuff that is not only financially realistic but also compatible with their lifestyle.
And when it comes to something that is beyond the basics or a special gift, they need to learn to pay for it themselves. A lot of kids are sheltered, and then one day they're like, "I need toothpaste. A tube costs four dollars. How long do I have to work to earn four dollars?" They see that things actually cost money.
SHELBURNE, Public Information Officer, Vermont Division of Emergency Management
Son Miles, 12; daughters Emma, 9, and Delaney, 5
When I was a kid, I understood our standard of living; I knew that I couldn't ask for a sports car. My parents taught me that everything costs money. If you spent money on one thing, you wouldn't have it for the other — and that other might be a necessity. It was a good lesson.
Our kids are not at the point yet where they ask for a certain article of clothing or a particular pair of shoes. But, with electronic devices, they will see the latest and greatest thing, usually at school, and ask for it around their birthday or Christmas.
Sometimes, instead of buying something they've asked for, like an iPad, we'll buy a less expensive technology that serves the same purpose. We've taken a lot of time to teach our kids the value of a dollar, so if they ask for something outrageous, we just explain to them it's an expensive item and they can't shoot that high. When we say no, they know why we're saying no.
JERICHO, Route Sales Rep, G&K Services
Daughters Alexis, 14, and Paige, 9
My wife and I are on the same page when it comes to this issue. We've had to explain things such as going out to eat: Eating out is expensive. It's not something everyone can do every day, or all weekend long.
We ran into a problem with Paige wanting stuff she'd seen, things that other kids had. We told her why we didn't think she needed those things, but it was hard to make her understand. With kids, they want what they want at that moment.
Our girls always want something, so we don't give them an allowance. Instead, we have them work for what they want. Right now, Alexis is into dance, and she wants to take an extra hip-hop class at a different studio. She's earning that dance class by doing chores around the house. At first, she didn't understand, but after she processed it, she realized it really was fair because the class was costing us a lot more money.
—"Go Ask Dad" is a monthly feature in which we ask fathers to answer a question. Got a question or a pop you'd like to hear from? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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