NOTE: This archive only contains Carolyn Hax columns through March 2011. Her more recent columns are located here.

Wii's not the world. Let well-off brother decide what he can afford for son.

Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post
(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)
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By Carolyn Hax
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Adapted from a recent online discussion:

Hello, Carolyn:

My sister and I are wondering about something and I said we should try to get your take. Our brother and his wife (and their two kids) are not hurting financially. They both work, live in a more expensive area than we do and send their kids to private school. Their son and my son are almost the same age and like to get together for their days off.

My nephew was here for a long weekend, and they spent almost the whole day playing Wii. At dinner, my son said, "You should get one for your house. They're really fun." And my nephew said, "They're too expensive." He seemed very matter-of-fact about it, like it was perfectly normal.

I know for a fact they can afford it. My sister and I are wondering why on earth they would say that to a little kid. They went to Italy last fall, and they can't afford a Wii? What's up?

Va.

Do you really "know for a fact" they can afford it? With a high cost of living and private school tuition, they could have very little disposable income, and if travel is their priority, they could be putting their meager extra money aside for that in favor of buying a video game system.

Granted, they could use a month's worth of travel savings on the Wii and plan their next trip for August instead of July, but then the question becomes, why should they?

And if they've just made a decision to prioritize themselves out of the video-game market, whether for financial reasons or for we-don't-want-this-temptation-in-our-house reasons, and they've chosen to explain this to their son as "too expensive," then maybe they're guilty only of taking an explanatory shortcut with him.

Maybe instead, in that case, they should have had the backbone to say, "We know you want a Wii, but we don't think video games are good for kids to have around the house" -- but maybe then they don't want him to think they're judging his cousin's family's decision to have one.


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