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

By Carolyn Hax
Tuesday, July 13, 2010; C04

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.

And maybe none of these explanations covers it, but this question will:

Isn't this getting a bit too deep into the business of your brother's family? If you and your sister have no bigger concerns about the way your brother and his wife are raising their kids, then why not keep the yellow flag in your pocket on this one, and trust that they have their reasons?

Re: The Wii:

Really. They are refusing to buy their son a video game system, not food or medical care. Butt out.

Anonymous

I don't know. Setting up your kid to suck at Mario Kart might constitute child abuse.

Re: Wii:

"Too expensive" just means it costs more than you are willing to pay for what you get out of it. I think you hit on this idea, Carolyn, but it's even more basic. If you don't buy a $4 bottle of water at the airport because it's "too expensive," it doesn't mean you don't have $4 to your name. You just aren't willing to spend $4 to drink bottled water instead of fountain water.

Anonymous

Sold, thanks.

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