Ethics

For the week ending 19 May 2012 / 26 Iyyar 5772

"We Can't Afford It"

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: Some of my sons friends at school are already talking about the summer camps they will be attending. Our family cannot afford to send our son to camp and we will have to make alternative plans for his vacation. What is the right thing to do in order to relieve my sons sense of being deprived?

Answer: The best thing you can do for your childs development, a wise observer of human nature once pointed out, is to respond to his exorbitant requests with the words "We can't afford it".

Envy of others is a tragic element of human society. "Keeping up with the Joneses" and looking with greedy eyes at "the grass which seems greener on the other side of the fence" are the sources of so much unhappiness and discord. It is therefore important that at an early age youngsters are taught to be content with what they have and not be envious of what luxuries their friends can afford.

Parents who easily give in to the pleas of their children for toys, games, clothes and vacations that their friends from more prosperous families are enjoying are spoiling them in more ways than one. Not only are they signaling to their child that they can get whatever they wish if they complain enough but they are also training them for living their future lives in an irresponsible way of spending more than they can afford.

If you wish to really soften the blow for your "deprived" child, use your imagination to make his vacation period a more meaningful one than a few weeks in a summer camp.

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