Around June, while on our weekly date, Jia and I went inside the department store in UP Town Center because she needed to buy something. While inside, she saw an Anna (of Frozen) dress. She stared at it for sooo long. Jia never had a Disney Princess costume before and I knew she wanted it. She asked me if we could buy it. I checked the price and it was Php1,349.00. Truth be told, if it were a book or something I felt had more relevance in life, I would probably have closed my eyes to the price and bought it. Jia is such a good and responsible girl and she seldom asks for things. But because it was just a costume, I could not justify the price to myself and explained to her that it was just too expensive. Still, the mother in me wanted to make my baby happy and so I told her that she could ask her Dad if she could buy it.
When we got home, she explained to her Dad about the dress and how much she wanted it. Now, Jia has an allowance in school. It’s Php20.00 per day. She brings lunch and snacks and water so she really does not need to buy anything but we give her allowance primarily because studies have shown that adults who were given allowance as kids grow up to be better with money than those who did not. I give her Php100.00 at the beginning of the week and it is up to her to budget that for the whole week. Jia’s Dad told her that if she really wanted to buy the dress, she would have to save up for it. Jia agreed.
I was very much in agreement with Jia saving up for the dress but I was also very nervous that by the time she would be able to save Php1,349.00, the price would have gone up or worse, there would be no more stock. The mother in me won over the Positive Parenting educator in me. I talked to my husband privately and told him the possible scenarios and concluded with “Let us buy the dress now and just keep it.” My husband said no and disregarded my arguments with a smile.
For weeks after they made the agreement, Jia would bring home some money at the end of the week. I realized then that although she did make an effort to save, it was probably not something that she really, really liked. That was when I fully appreciated the condition that her Daddy insisted on and I was so thankful that he did not let me buy the dress. Imagine, every school day for the past five months, Jia had to make a choice whether to save for a costume or buy a fruit shake or a yogurt drink… not that these are necessarily good choices (the sugar!!) BUT she had options and she was the one who had to make the decision. In my parenting workshops, one of the things I discuss is the importance of children’s perception of having influence over their own lives and being able to decide for themselves. This daily exercise of deciding for herself (whether to save up or buy something from the cafeteria), I think, will go a long way in teaching her about priorities. She learned the value of saving and delaying gratification. Most importantly for me, I think we won a small victory over the entitlement syndrome.
I gave a small thanks that Jia wanted to a buy a dress and not a book. I would have done her a disservice had she asked for a book because I know I would have given it to her. I would have lost this very important teachable moment.
Finally, two weeks ago, she asked me if she could get money from her savings because she and her classmates are planning to put up a Christmas play and they need props. (Explanation: She and her classmates often come up with projects on their own and their school actually supports these projects. These projects can be as simple as wanting to serve merienda to the whole class. Once, they made banana shakes and french fries for the whole class just because. One project I was really proud of was this fund raising for CRIBS.)
She got Php40.00 from her savings to buy balloons for the play. When I asked her about the dress, she told me she will not anymore use her savings for the dress. I asked if she was sure and she said she was. When I asked why, she answered, “It’s not worth saving up for. It’s just Frozen anyway and Frozen is just that… Frozen.”
I am one proud mom.