So by pure cruel fate I accidentally shopped this past weekend.  I hadn’t meant to.  I had planned on a relaxing weekend of absolutely avoiding all shopping centers, malls, or merchandizing meccas.  But it turns out I needed a new dress for a company holiday party that kind of snuck up on me this year (no surprise the manifold dresses I had collected pre-pregnancy aren’t quite so flattering anymore, is it?) and I may be out of a vehicle for most of this week due to Keen getting run down by a pregnant woman at Safeway (Keen and said pregnant woman are both fine, thanks) so, voila, I ended up driving to the mall and trudging through the crowds Saturday. 

Let me tell you, the ball of dread started about ten seconds after I realized I had to face the crowds this weekend.  So to cheer myself up, as I drove morosely to the mall (which is so oxymoronic I can’t even tell you (unless you’re shopping for jeans)), I decided to treat myself by shopping at Anthropologie.

Because that’s what I think of Anthropologie… a treat.  They have beautiful clothes there, they really do; they have beautiful details, and signature styling… but that is NOT an everyday shopping store. That is a “once in a while” store, for something special.  Many of their t-shirts start at $70!  And that’s cotton!  It’s not like you get extra fine craftsmanship and long-lasting wear like when you buy really good leather boots or something.  A $70 t-shirt lasts about as long as a t-shirt from Wal-mart. But if I was going to drop a good chunk of change on a new dress I figured I might as well treat myself with the signature styling and all that.  (Within budget, of course.)

Can I tell you how many teenage girls were there with their parents? A lot, that’s how many.  And they didn’t even seem to be Christmas shopping.  They seemed to be just generally shopping… like for fun… for their regular wardrobe. Their parents sat patiently on the provided “money-bags” couch, and these girls ran around collecting $70 tees and $160 dollar skirts (and those are the lower-priced items); each one looking tastefully deconstructed like a European faux gamine as they made multiple trips in and out of the dressing room. 

I guess I should give these teens props for not following the Coach-toting, velour sweat-wearing Juicy herd, but to tell the truth I was a little appalled. 

I mean, even if you have that kind of money would you just let your teenage kids go to town?  Maybe it was my upbringing (poor) but how do you teach the value of money if you just give your kids really expensive stuff?  (Yes, I know I sound old and crotchety. And no, I don’t know the circumstances of each and every teenage shopper in the place – I’m sure some of them earned their shopping treat – but I have to share my general impression as an observer.  And I’m not so crazy about the juicy sweats, Coach-toters, either.)  Trust me, I would LOVE to have that kind of cash… and the fact that I was actually shopping there means I’ve got something, but… I’m 35 and anything I have now is only because I worked hard to get to where I am in life. You know?

It seems like everywhere you look teens are wearing really expensive merchandise.  I know it’s silly because it’s a long way away, but I worry about teaching good values about money to my kid(s).  I already know I am going to be better off financially than my parents – in fact, Keen and I planned it out that way; we set goals young, we worked hard, yadda yadda yadda.  But we also waited to have kids; we started a little older.  And here is my fear… I see a lot of older parents with money that are complacent about indulging their kids. You know, you mellow with age, you’ve got extra income, it just doesn’t seem a big deal to “take care” of the kids. 

Will I become an older parent with cash?

Personally, I don’t think so because at my core I just don’t think it teaches kids anything to give them money too freely (and obviously, I balk at the $70 cotton shirt even though I’m a total clothes horse).  I’m afraid too much money will give them entitlement issues and then they’ll hit the real world come college and be all bitter and disenchanted.  Or they’ll try to live at home forever.  (Yeah, that’s a little of the mommy brain running amok.) But then again, since I never had disposable income of my own growing up (outside of what I earned) I can’t really say I know what that experience is like or how those kids end up. 

So I’d like to open this up for discussion and hear your opinions.  Am I overreacting and just being a big fat bitch parent?  Do any of you have a game plan for teaching money sense?  Have any of you seen methods that work or seen an average of what’s good for the kids (any teachers reading this)?  How are the parents’ money decisions affecting kids today? 

Your thoughts?             – the weirdgirl