Spare the IPod, Unspoil the Child

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, April 16, 2006

As a parent, I know there are certain things I have had to get used to.

I know that children will always want what you know isn't good for them. They will relentlessly beg for things until your head nearly explodes.

They will nag for something before dinner that will ruin their appetites.

They will, if you let them, watch television from the time their tiny toes hit the floor in the morning until you drag them away from the set late at night.

However, what I didn't anticipate -- and what I can't get used to -- is dealing with the overindulgent decisions made by many of the parents of my children's friends and classmates.

I constantly have to listen to my children complain that so-and-so has the latest, greatest name-brand whatever. My 10-year-old daughter can't understand why I won't buy her an iPod. Really, what 10-year-old has lived long enough to have a passion for hundreds of songs she just has to have in her hip pocket?

Don't even get me started on the pressure to compete with the birthday parties that are equivalent to coronations.

My 8-year-old son points out that all his friends have video-game systems or the handheld versions -- most of the time both.

Ever watch, really watch, kids play the games? It's a little scary. I consider them brain-freeze toys. I'm holding steady, but it's tough.

And it's not just about the money.

Okay, it is a lot about the money.

First, it's the initial outlay for the game system. But then there's the endless badgering to supply them with new games to feed their habit. Sorry, I'd rather put that money into my son's college fund.

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