Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just Say No

This letter at YWN is mind-boggling: [emphasis added]


My issue however is what has been going on recently with both girls AND BOYS alike as far as brand name clothing is concerned. Many of us do not realize that many sixth and seventh grade girls are going to school with $175 knapsacks. Sweatshirts that run $75 a piece, and can’t be worn more than once a month. I recall being in school and wearing the same pair of school shoes all winter. Now the girls need their Ugg boots ($110), and three pairs of shoes.

Many high school boys are now wearing ties that I am told run upwards of $150. That is correct…..$150. Their glasses (and g-d forbid you should only have one pair) are all designer names many of which I have never ever heard of. Belts can run over $200 and yet somehow so many of these yeshiva bochurim have them.

I know that many of you are going to comment that you need to learn to be mechanech your kids and learn to say NO. I know all about it. A few months ago YWN posted an article (HERE) about the cost of seminary and most of the comments (ludicrous in my opinion) were how this parent didn’t understand how to say no. My guess is that many (not all) of these comments came from people who are not in the “parsha”.

We need to understand the ENOURMOUS pressure that is put on these kids in school by their friends and classmates. It is easy to sit back and be an armchair NO NO NO parent. If I had a daughter… I would tell my son… If you are able to and it doesn’t backfire, great. Consider yourself very lucky. But many of us do not want our children to be outcasts and want our children to be happy. With all that is going on with children at risk today, the number one priority you hear from the people that deal with this is to make sure your children are happy.

I don’t have a good answer to the problem and while I am inclined to say no, and my gut tells me to say no, it breaks my heart to see unhappy children.

Any advice?

First commenter there said it well: Just say: No!

What's ridiculous about this letter is that she completely discounts saying "No" - even calling it ludicrous - and yet still has the audacity to complain about the problem. If you're completely unwilling to be a parent or do what is obviously necessary, then don't complain about the problem.

{I'd never heard of $200 belts until Squooshball mentioned it when we stopped by their house last year - how insane is that?! I'm still wearing the same $10-15 belts I've had for a few years, and they're holding up just fine. My grandmother even told me last night that recently, my nephew's pants were falling down, so she gave him a shoelace to use as a belt. Much cheaper. I say sell the belt and invest in something thats price is low because of the market.}


  1. Yeah, I also thought the letter was just a bit ludicrous. No one *needs* those things.

    I commented on that letter on my blog as well.

    The Wolf

  2. Well then God bless out of town because it seems to be the only place that is still sane.

    I'll add this to the mix. What did the mother who wrote think was going to happen? When children see adults routinely indulging in just this kind of clothing madness they imitate the adults. Yes, you need to learn to just say No! but you simultaneously need to stop buying those "keep up with the Joneses" items yourself. Otherwise what you are showing the kids is "Do as I say, not as I do." This is an adult problem that has filtered down to the kids. The "no" has to begin with the adults.

  3. 2 points:

    a)Apple and trees people...apples and trees.
    b)I cannot even fathom the reaction that would have been earned from either of my parents had one of my sisters had the flat insane cocktail of gall/guts/death wish to ever purchase and wear in public, let alone ask for, an item of clothing with the word "Juicy" on it.

  4. Just saying no isn't enough.
    Kids need to be brought up with the idea that money doesn't grow on trees, that $100 for a sweater is ridiculous when you can buy a perfectly nice one for $25, that you may think all your friends' parents can afford it, but maybe they have debts or rich grandparents, and anyway, you don't have to live with the long-term consequences of their parents' spending habits.

    Basically, kids need to understand the big picture from a young age.

    But - if the parents buy themselves top-of-the-line couture, then they shouldn't expect their kids to live with less.

  5. If kids are given such high-end items at such an early stage in life, what will they reward themselves with when they're adults?

  6. Another issue is that the letter writer doesn't seem to understand what it means to - in her words - "want our children to be happy".

    Not only do parents need to teach their kids about the value of money and about saying "no", they also need to teach them what "happiness" is - and what happiness isn't.

    Designer clothes, IMNSHO, shouldn't be one's definition of happiness...

  7. Having a $200 belt in sixth grade doesn't make you happy. Having a supportive parent with common sense who invests time and energy in helping you be a strong, confident person with self-esteem, self-respect, and a wide range of interests beyond brand names makes you happy.

  8. It's sad that kids can spend so much on nothing. But it starts young and by the parents. I've seen posts on the frum yahoo groups of people selling baby snowsuits that they bought for over $100. Or designer clothing for a 12 month old that cost the same amount.
    Maybe it's because I'm from out of town, but the first thing we would check was the price tag. If it was high, we left it.

  9. No one needs a Bugaboo stroller. Right? I'm sure people could defend why it's necessry, but we got along fine without them when our kids were little. (Perego was in style back then :) )

    Of course, I'm from the old school of people who say we got along fine without cellphones back in the old days. I broke down and got mine 6 years ago after a camp director insisted. But I'm really happy with my prepaid, and I spend a little over $100 per year.

  10. Wolf - Good post.

    Stam - Thank God. So are you!

    ProfK - Yup.

    G - I don't think they say Juicy on it; I think it's just the brand name.

    Trilcat - Yup.

    TNSPR - Oy.

    Mrs. S - Amen! Well said.

    Irina - Well said!

    LB - Seriously. Almost everything we have is from Children's Place or similar, or more often, hand-me-downs from Serach's sisters' kids. Much cheaper.

    Tesyaa - I do think there's a difference between having an item which wasn't necessary in the past but certainly has a use, and designer vs. regular clothing. It'd be the equivalent of having a cellphone vs. having an iPhone with tons of stuff on it.

  11. First of all I don't know if all the items say Juicy on them, but some definitely do. I've seen them around.

    I don't get so many hand me downs, but I buy clothing for the next year at the end of the season (coats included). (Children's place clothing is often $3.99 at the end of the season.) I only buy during the season if I realize the kids are missing an item or two.

    I buy their shoes in an outlet. I don't get buying a kid a $100 shoe that the kid will outgrow in a few months and scuff in a few minutes.

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  13. "Well then God bless out of town because it seems to be the only place that is still sane."

    FYI, when I discussed the $200 belt issue with Ezzie and Serach last year, it was regarding my fourteen-year-old nephew who attends an OOT yeshiva.

    "Having a $200 belt in sixth grade doesn't make you happy. Having a supportive parent with common sense who invests time and energy in helping you be a strong, confident person with self-esteem, self-respect, and a wide range of interests beyond brand names makes you happy."

    I don't think the boys are wearing these expensive belts in 6th grade (yet). It seems to be a fad prevalent in the high schools.

    While I agree with your sentiments (I can't imagine ever purchasing or allowing them to purchase such luxurious clothing items, but then again, we're not in "the parsha" yet as our boys are only 11 and 6), the problem may very well lie in the fact that many--if not most--of these boys stop living at home by the time they hit 9th grade. It's for this reason that I wonder how on earth any of these boys can have a supportive parents with common sense who invest time and energy in helping them be strong,confident people with self-esteem, self-respect, and a wide range of interests.