Sunday 22 March 2009

Harsh Dad

I seem to be out of kilter with the parental norms here in deepest Essex.

A couple of years ago, whilst sitting in an Austrian bar, the parents of a 17 year-old were saying how difficult they were finding it to stop him smoking. "We just don't know how he can afford it" they chimed. At that moment he walks in, and is duly handed the 15 euros he asked for. I wonder what he spent them on?

Last night I was chatting to a fellow parent and mentioned that as the Boy's attention to schoolwork has slipped somewhat, he was banned from MSN until after the school trip to Sorrento. "Oh I don't think I could get away with that" she said.

The Boy has a mobile phone allowance, and if he goes over it, he has to pay me double what the phone company charges. It seems a good way to encourage him to keep a check on how many texts and minutes he has left. "What a good idea, I wish I could do that" said another parent recently.

The boy gets pocket money - paid monthly into his bank account. He can spend what's in the account and no more.

"They all go down Starbucks and have a coffee and muffin, and that's £5 gone. Still I wouldn't want to stop her, so I give her extra" was the conversation with another mum. Well if the boy's got £5 he can go, and if not he can't. I remember Grandma in Cyprus lecturing us about the value of money. I hope the boy learns young. After all when he's 18 he inherits a goodly chunk from his mum, and neither of us can afford it going to his head.

All his friends have quite elaborate birthday parties, to which the guests bring a card and a present. Strangely (I think) the present consists of £5 notes. One child managed to accumulate over £500 from his friends gifts. The boy is banned from that - I make him find a present that's right for the person, although I will allow a book token or iTunes voucher.

I wonder if I'm just a grumpy old Dad.


  1. I loved this. You're so practical and down-to-earth.

    I am reading several blogs for an English project. I chose this as one of them.

  2. Not harsh - just giving him a much better grounding in reality. He will thank you - it just might take a while!

  3. If more parents did that kind of thing then there'd be none of the incessant calls for 'schools' to teach it all. And why exactly can't the other parents 'get away with it'?

  4. No, I think you are very sensible. The boy will learn how to control his accounts (bank/phone etc) and know that he cannot go over the top without paying the price - just as in the real world. He'll be able to fend for himself when he leaves home, whereas his friends will be running back to their parents to be bailed out or looking to the state for hand-outs!

  5. My deepest sympathy. It is not easy today, it never was, but you sound very well balanced to me.

  6. fatulata...thank you, I shall come a visiting to your blog

    AG thanks for the vote!

    Mud...can you remind him to thank me!

    I'm totally with you Dotterel

    Rosiero...Ihope you're right...I suspect a few handouts will come..

    Ken - thanks...glad to know was ever the case

  7. Nope you are sane, sensible and spot on. And hopefully will have a son who turns into the same. Our eldest is only 7 but already he has to earn his pocket money via good behaviour. He can spend it on what he likes within reason but the wife and I maintain the power of veto - blowing £50 that he'd saved on a single Pokemon card that we knew he'd lose within a week was a memorable refusal. Months later, with his pokemon craze dead, he's grateful. Sometimes parents just know better. Period.

  8. When's the bestseller coming out RTFM?

    You have clearly cornered the market in sane & affordable parenting!


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