It’s almost back-to-school time, when our thoughts turn to new teachers, backpacks … and, potentially, how to contend with a bad case of comparisonitis: That is, your kid’s.
“My daughter had to start in a new school last year,” explains Jeanine Groebe*, mother of Martina, 12, who lives in central New Jersey. ”I’d recently gotten divorced, and we moved.”
One afternoon, Martina brought a couple of girls home with her, and her mom was thrilled she was making new friends—until she overheard her daughter explaining that they had had to live in this small apartment because “their big house had been ‘broken’ in Hurricane Sandy.”
The only problem? There was no big house. Martina had made the whole story up.
“When the other girls left, I asked her why she lied about where we live,” says Groebe, “and she admitted she was embarrassed by our new apartment because her new friends all live in big houses.”
Groebe felt bad that her daughter was upset enough to lie, she says, and explained that they were lucky to have a nice place to live.
Welcome to the age of pint-size comparisonitis.
Where Our Kids Get Their Ideas
Let’s face it: We all want our children to have everything they could ever possibly want. It’s hard to deny them anything. We feel this way out of love, but we may also use gifts to assuage our guilt for not being able to spend as much time with them as we feel we should. Some moms are generous just because they can afford to be.
Over 76% of parents say their spending on kids has gotten out of control. But are we, ourselves, part of the problem, and what role does where we choose to live and raise our children play?