Mom, can I go to the mall?

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    When your teenage daughter asks you if she can go to the mall with her friends, there are two possible answers.

    Answer options #1: “Of course you can, dear! Have fun!”

    Answer options #2: “No way! I don’t want you to get into the bad habit of holiday shopping.’

    A dilemma.

    I let her go last time I faced this situation and ended up being the chaperone as well. At 11, they are too young to go to the mall on their own, but the dilemma still exists. How do I instill the value of financial responsibility and frugality when “hanging out at the mall” is such a big part of the teenage girls’ social scene?

    Shopping is fun – I think we can all agree on that (at least women can!) One of my strongest memories as a teenager is looking at the pile of new clothes I’ve just bought neatly stacked in my closet, and feel a sense of sweet anticipation – oh, what fun it will be to wear these clothes!

    Of course, you quickly realize that any pleasure from shopping is very short-lived. You enjoy your new property for a few days, maybe a few weeks, but once the novelty wears off, the excitement wears off. Time for another shopping trip? Yes, if you are addicted to shopping. But our goal – mine and certainly yours if you’re reading this blog – is to avoid getting addicted to shopping or anything else because it’s a huge waste of money.

    I used to be addicted to shopping. Maybe “addicted” is a strong word, but I definitely had a bad habit of going to my favorite online fashion store (bluefly.com) every morning to see if they had added anything new. Of course, if you get into the habit of checking out new items to see if you need the clothes or not, you’ll end up buying way more than you need and also paying hundreds of dollars in shipping every year.

    David’s note: I’m glad Vered has given up her ritual of checking the same website daily for new arrivals, but make no mistake, addiction was the perfect word to describe this behavior. If you do something like this, you are also suffering from addiction. At the end of the day, of course, it’s a personal choice, but know that it’s mentally and financially unhealthy.

    A few years ago, it took me a few months to finally kick the holiday shopping habit. And now I have the task of making sure that my daughter does not develop this habit.

    We certainly live in a culture that forces us to spend. Brands spend millions of advertising dollars trying to get us to buy their products, whether we need to or not. We are told that if we only buy their stuff, we will look better, feel better and be happier. We are taught to consume from a very early age. And when we become teenagers, the pressure is stronger than ever. Now, if you don’t consume and showcase the best brands, you risk being labeled as uncool.

    So what’s a mother to do? I wish I had a clear answer to this question, but I don’t know how to go about it. I’d love your input – whether you’re a parent or not, I’m sure you can offer a useful perspective. Should I try to teach my kids that recreational shopping is a bad idea, or should I just let them be teenagers for now and deal with the consequences later?

    Post Mom, can I go to the mall? first appeared on MoneyNing.

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