Great Mom Debate: Do You Let Your Kids Spend Their Gift Money Any Way They Want?

By Charlotte Hilton Anderson, REDBOOK
kid collecting
Pokemon cards are the bane of my existence. It's not that they're always underfoot or that they get lost on the school bus or traded for Tootsie rolls. It's not even that they're a poorly illustrated game based on completely arbitrary rules. (Although now that I type that I can think of at least 10 adult games that fit that same description.) No, it's the fact that they feel like a waste of money to me. Every time my son gets a gift card or money, he wants to go to the store and load up on little pieces of paper that will probably be exactly like the 200 other little pieces of paper in his collection.

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I just don't get it. Obviously I was never into baseball cards as a kid. "Wouldn't you rather get a new book? Or a magic kit? You can use those lots of times," I'll bargain. If that doesn't help I'll pull out the big guns: "What about some new Legos?" Nothing works. The only thing that can talk him out of Pokemon cards is candy and given those two options, I'd just as soon stick with perpetually cross-eyed Pikachu.

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As I was discussing this with a mommy friend who has the same issue at her house, I realized how much of what my kids want to buy strikes me as a waste of money as a grown-up. Candy is gone in five minutes. Small toys are lost in the car before we even get home. And that's not even counting the things that I think are just dumb like those bean things that are basically tiny Weeble-Wobbles for older kids. Why would anyone want those?

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Anyone want to slap me yet? I kind of do. Who am I to tell my kids what things they can be passionate about? If they love little identical pieces of paper then the important part of that is that they love them. And if it turns out that they don't love them as much as they thought they did? Well then they'll learn from the experience and make a better choice the next time. Like I did with my 87 Pretty Ponies. Ok, so maybe I can understand it. Just a little bit.

Do your kids collect anything? Do you tell your kids what they can spend their money on or do you give them free reign?

1) It's their money, let them do what they want

2) I'm the mom, it's my job to provide some guidance

3) I keep the money in my purse and use it to buy them something we'll both love

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