I think what happens is that during all the traveling in the summer, I get kind of lax about saying no and let them buy their cheezy souvenirs. Then they begin to feel entitled and expect these luxuries to continue freely flowing at every shopping opportunity. While in Ohio last week, I gave my kids a twenty to each purchase a beverage at Starbucks. Then, I indulged them a little more by letting them keep the change. When stopping on the drive back at a Bob Evans, I thought, I'll let them use their money any way they want and see if they make good decisions about what to do with it. They came back from the gift shop with their five hundredth stuffed animal and a three hundredth race car. Well, they failed that test!
My nephew recently told my children that all I teach them how to do is shop. Ouch! If that's what I'm teaching, then I'm not even doing that very well.
What I want to know is how to I turn things around. We have the disposable income to indulge them but that does not mean we should. I want my kids to realize how good they have it. The "starving kids in Africa" speech doesn't seem to hit home with them. Someone needs to start a "living frugal" camp where privileged kids can go to get a taste of doing without. They could serve them stew every night (maybe even skip a few meals as my kids have never truly experienced hunger), have one toy for every five kids, no T.V. or video games, and assign them work to help sustain everyone at the camp (like gather firewood, pick berries, fish, etc.).
We are going cold turkey from now until Christmas. I'm not buying them anything and I am making them put all their money in their college accounts. I will not break down - not even a piece of gum from a gum ball machine. I mean it!