Are We Really Depriving Our Kids?

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Are We Really Depriving Our Kids?
By Jill Cooper

I often hear ladies complaining that they want to stay at home with their kids but that they "have to work since it is so expensive to raise kids these days". One of the main questions I get asked about frugal living is "won’t I be depriving my children if I live the frugal life?" Maybe I can answer that question with a few questions.

How am I depriving my children by having them drink water for every meal instead of juice and soda? Isn’t one thing doctors are always complaining about is we don’t drink enough water? Cutting out just one glass of soda per person per day for a family of four would save $547.50 a year and make them healthier.

How am I depriving my children by having them eat an apple or homemade granola bar for a snack instead of a bag of chips? Obesity is a major problem among children in the United States. If you cut out just one bag of chips a week you would save $104.00 a year and make them healthier.

How am I depriving my children by having them walk to school or to a friends house instead of my always driving them there? Lack of exercise is a big problem. You would save time and wear and tear on your car by having them walk and make them healthier at the same time.

How am I depriving my children when I don’t buy them every toy they see and want? We wouldn’t dream of giving a baby on baby food all the chocolate that he wants because we know it would make him sick. His body can not tolerate that much chocolate even if he desires it.

In the same way, an older child can’t emotionally deal with the overload of toys. I as an adult become stressed just from trying to buy a bottle of shampoo. Have you ever noticed how many options you have? Trying to make a decision can be overwhelming. Do I get it for thin, fine, dry and damaged or colored and permed hair? The list goes on and on.

In the same way when a young child looks at piles of toys, he can become very stressed over choosing which one to play with. If you watch, you will notice that they tend to play with the same couple of toys over and over. If you didn’t give them all the toys they asked for and bought one less brand new toy at $10 a week, you would save $520.00 in one year and you would help relieve them of some stress.

It is no wonder our children stay confused. We insist that they should eat healthy yet we take them out to eat 3-5 times a week at McDonald’s. We give them a bag of carrot sticks in their lunch because it’s healthy and then give them a bag of chips when they get home from school to get them off our backs.

We want them to have strong character yet the moment they whine or cry for another toy or some candy at the store we give in out of guilt. We are afraid that if we don’t give them what they want, they won’t love us so to rid ourselves of uncomfortable feelings we say yes. How can we teach them to be strong in character when we are so weak?

How could our society and way of thinking have gotten so mixed up that we think a child is deprived if a mom chooses to stay home and not go to work? We have come to believe that moms should work outside the home so that children can have the most expensive clothes, education or material things. (Note I didn’t say best but rather most expensive since the most expensive doesn’t mean the best.) If a mom goes to work so a child can have all those things it’s not considered depriving the child of anything but it’s mom. Which do you think does a child more harm- being deprived expensive things or it’s mom?

For you stay at home moms: Before you become too puffed up with pride be aware that too many social, church and school activities can deprive your children of you just as much as working. Do all things in moderation.

Better to give your kids your values you have than the valuables you can’t afford.

From Dig Out Of Debt


Photo by: D Sharon Pruitt


  1. Nicole says

    I love this article! I have many friends and family that think that now that we have choosen to live frugally that we will be depriving our children! I know it’s not true , it’s what best for them ! There is more to life than material possesions etc than that! I want to raise them to be able to live with less and be content! Just an added extra, for those people that feel they need to by brand name clothing, I went to my local second hand store the other day and bought myself 2 dresses, a skirt and blouse set, 3 t-shirts and 2 skirts for a grand total of $21 and they were all brand name clothes in excellent condition that someone was finished with!

  2. Gena says

    Great article!!! We have spoiled our kids in this country but they are not hard to unspoil. I started giving my kids only fresh fruit as a daily snack and popsicles, candy, chips etc as a special “treat” as it is intended to be and they don’t really mind at all. It has been a nice transition and it has brought the specialness back to those treats.

  3. Sandra says

    Right on target! Another point – giving your children every little thing they see sets them up to expect a lifestyle that they can’t afford to keep up when they’re adults and starting out on their own. Teach them some fiscal restraint now so that they’ll be fiscally responsible adults later. My oldest son, now 19 and working at McDonalds to pay his way through college, was upset that he had to work to pay for his own car when he saw other teenagers driving expensive BMWs that their parents bought for them but now his attitude is ” what’s wrong with these parents- that’s stupid!”. He has learned the value of money, hard work, and appreciating what you have. I still laugh when I hear him comment on one of those “got to have it” commercials saying, “that’s not worth that!”. A lesson we all would have done better to have learned at his age!

  4. says

    Kids get influenced early……the earlier you change their expectations the better! I used to teach Kindergarten and those children whose parents monitored and controlled TV watching had the best behaved and less materialistic kids I ever dealt with. They were the most creative too!
    Most of the time the parents did not allow TV during the week and only two nites on the weekend (Fri/Sat.) Television was a treat and the whole family watched together. I know this can be hard for parents as we get busy and often use the TV as a baby-sitter but it is an insidious invader that has become so much different than the TV most of us grew up with!

  5. rachael says

    I have accumulated alot of toys from garage sales and thrift stores. My kids love them because I collect sets of things- My Little Ponies, Fisher Price Little People, a kitchen set, dress up clothes, and dolls with clothes and accessories. My children enjoy them and are able to be creative rather than watch TV. Like you said, I don’t buy them everything they want- some of therir choices would be cast aside after 10 minutes! I agree that lots of toys overall is confusing, and your point is well taken. But you don’t have to spend alot for extra pieces that enhance a set and your kiddos playtime. My kids enjoy it!

  6. Alicia says

    I’m 24, married with 3 kids. Only my husband works and its been this way since we had our first child. I grew up with a single mother who worked 3 jobs to keep a roof over mine and my siblings heads. we lived with home cooked meals and garage sale clothes and not once did we complain about not having certain things because my mother taught us well, tv was a privilege and the mall was a foreign place. thats what i teach my children. that mcdonalds is a once in a blue moon type of treat( considering i hate mcdonalds) and my kids have no idea that theres a difference between second hand and brand new. they use their imaginations when playing like we did when we were little. we may be far under the poverty line but my kids don’t know what poverty is because we live simply to begin with and have everything we need. and we’re happy, they’re happy…whats there to complain about.

  7. Grandma says

    Just read this article and I am not sure if I am more disgusted with the 13 year old or the mother. They both need serious councelling in my books.

    Girl 13 sends death threat letter to Santa

    A British teenager has threatened to kill Santa Claus if she doesn’t get what she wants.

    “This Christmas, I don’t ask for much, so if I don’t get at least two of the things I want, I will literally kill you! Do you understand?! Oh, also, I’ll hunt down your reindeers, cook them and serve their meat to homeless people on Christmas Day,” Mekeeda Austin, 13, wrote in her letter, the Daily Mail reported. “No one wants that, so here’s what I want.”

    The girl lists a BlackBerry, money, a dress, high-top Converse shoes and the real Justin Bieber.

    “Remember, two of these or you die,” she wrote, signing it, “Love from Keedy.”

    Her mother found the letter and said she thought the letter was humorous, and she’ll try to get her daughter everything she wants.

    “I know it sounds like she is spoiled but I like to get my daughter what she wants, also you don’t want to get on the wrong side of her,” Tracey Soares told the newspaper, although she admitted getting the Canadian pop singer might be difficult because Bieber “will be busy with (his) own (family) on Christmas Day.”

    Austin told the reporter she didn’t see any problem with the letter.

    “I want all of these things and I don’t see why I shouldn’t get them,” she said.

  8. rose says

    i think they both need counseling and the girl could use a swift kick in the pants .. sorry but its true .. she’s a spoiled brat .. and a good couple of weeks/months in one of those boot camps would settle her down ..
    harsh? maybe .. i dont know but it might do her some good .. she cant have all she wants ..
    sorry if i sound mean or harsh but i think its better to learn early on in life that u cant always have what u want .. and well, if u need/want it that bad, work for it ..
    again .. they both could use some counseling ..
    thanks for letting me vent ..

  9. Grandma says

    I am just waiting for her to decide that santa is a myth and goes after her mother and father.
    then I wonder if mommy will be quite so understanding and stupid.


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