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March 16th, 2009
05:27 PM ET

Harsh economy is good for kids

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/16/art.polygamykids3.jpg]
McClatchy Newspapers
John Rosemond

While walking through one of my favorite discount stores the other day, I happened upon a scene that gave me hope for America's future. It was change I could believe in, for sure.

As her four children hopped around her, begging her in their most pitiful voices to buy them something, a mother stood, impassive, obviously immune to their retail angst, chanting, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no...."

As I walked by, smiling at her, it struck me that the economy, bad as it is, could have beneficial effects on parenting. After all, I haven't witnessed a scene of that sort in quite some time, and I've seen two in the last two weeks, in two different cities, widely separated. Something is happening.

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Filed under: Economy • Finance
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Rashmi

    Yes it is good but upto some limit. If it went beyond this limit, it could affect the fulfillment of basic needs, that may damage the social progress.

    March 17, 2009 at 4:08 am |
  2. Patty Pierson

    I have said that if nothing more comes from these times maybe our youth will realize that saving for something is better than the 'I have to have it yesterday' mentaility that has been our norm. Twenty some years ago, while traveling in Europe, I was asked if Americans could really buy a refrigerator on credit.

    From bits i have heard on TV, it sounds like our new government doesn't want us to put our money in savings. They want us to spend it. Sorry, I was raised to save for a rainy day and I still feel that is the way, especially since my retirement is in dire straights. Funny how the market crashed one month before elections.....................

    March 17, 2009 at 1:14 am |
  3. Franky

    "Their parents are too busy running them to completely superfluous after-school activities that may build certain skills, but fail to build what endures: good citizenship - which, by the way, parents once maintained began in the home. Not on the ball field."

    Well...that's what they told me, LOL!! And til this day, they still blame me for not following that path...ohh no, is for the money, just money, LOL!! Na'h, I'm playing, I literally had a choice in my youth, I don't know what's wrong with me. Even in High School, I had a chance to do something but instead, studied what are assets and liabilities in Accounting for Business school...boy, thank God I didn't, huh? LOL!!

    Hmmmm, being tough in hard times, huh? Well, thank God it didn't happen a decade ago that's for sure, I can only imagine how tough my parents would have been...(ohh God I'm scarred!).

    March 16, 2009 at 9:40 pm |
  4. joanna

    Harsh economy is a wakeup call for parents as well. I have always told my kids that they will have to go to college (but not paid for by me, cause I had to pay for my education), they will have to get a job to buy their own car and insurance – no free rides here baby! My job as a parent is to raise mature, responsible adults for the next generation. It's about time parents get back to what parenting is all about.

    March 16, 2009 at 9:40 pm |
  5. William of Iowa

    Today, one in ten school children in the Minneapolis School District are homeless. This should further brighten your day.

    March 16, 2009 at 8:56 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    My kids have heard the "no" word a lot more in their lives than "yes". Each has had chores, minimum grade levels they had to maintain in school (B and up), and a very small allowance. I've also used my parents timetable for when a child is old enough to do something – 14 for getting ones ears pierced; 18 to drive; 17 for single dating, etc. When my kids complained about this I would ask them if I let them do everything now then what did they have to look forward to and to work toward? (Each item with an age requirement had other requirements as well).

    I always wondered if I was being too tough on them until the day my oldest called from college to thank me for having reared her this way – she was the only one in her dorm suite that could do laundry without turning everything the same color; the only one that would pick up and keep the dorm suite neat; the only one that could really cook and would do the dishes afterwards; and the only one that could clean a bathroom and make it shine. Now she is using the same tactics with her children. I appreciate my mom showing me with her example how to say no and turn it into a meaningful exercise in growing up – you just never know what nuggets of wisdom your parents passed onto you until you use them on your own.

    March 16, 2009 at 8:03 pm |
  7. Isabel, Brazil

    I have experienced just that some years ago. And such a thing happened in my childhood, when my mother asked me to choose 3 possibilities for gift to Santa Claus. Years later, I found that usually what I won was the cheapest.

    March 16, 2009 at 8:02 pm |
  8. Big Mark

    finally, maybe the end of generations of spoiled rotten, snotty, it's all about me, consumerist, materialistic, greedy, selfish and shallow children being raised into nasty adults in our culture/society!! woo-hoo! "No" has fallen out of the parenting vocabulary for far too long. "spare the rod and spoil the child" is a truism.

    March 16, 2009 at 7:35 pm |
  9. Bek

    I definitely think that the harsh economy can hurt kids, I think that has been adequately covered in the media and I have seen what it does to our family. I do agree that there can be some long term benefits for kids, but not just in regards to changing their attitudes toward money and "stuff" and building a stronger work ethic. Another positive is that parents who have lost their jobs can, in some cases, spend more quality time with their kids, which can have a positive effect on kids, and the whole family, as well. My husband lost his job in July and while there have been many negative effects of the loss of benefits and loss of income, the one bright spot in his job loss has been that he has been able to spend so much more time working with our son, who has autism and also researching new approaches to teaching our child. Our son has made so much progress since July that we may have never seen without this focused, concentrated daily attention . Of course, the cost of my husband losing his job is that our savings has been emptied paying for our COBRA plan, and we cannot afford the professional care and assistance that our son needs in some areas, but we still can't argue with the progress our little boy has made.

    Sometimes, you don't know your own strength and resourcefulness until they are tested.

    March 16, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  10. Erin Adams

    this is nothing new to me. growing up we were told "do not ask for anything once we get in this store". I'm 28.

    March 16, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  11. Nanci M

    As a mother of a 16 year old and a 18 year old, I agree 100%. This is the first time in their lives that they have been concerned about me losing my job. I am fortunate and have thus far been spared but the tough times have allowed me to introduce "coupons" and "sales" to their privelaged lives.

    March 16, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  12. Mike Lavimodiere

    Back To Values & Doing Whats Right.!
    Not Greed & & Being Selfish..

    Getting Back To The Basics Is Making America Stronger In The Long Haul.

    March 16, 2009 at 5:58 pm |
  13. Alyzabeth

    I was thinking that maybe with the economy in such bad shape, people will stop buying all the electronic gadgets that occupy so much of their time and start paying more attention to the real people around them. Maybe it will help our society to be less connected and yet more connected at the same time.

    March 16, 2009 at 5:56 pm |