Taking advantage of our kids for charity:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

As a parent, I am upset- but I’m not sure how I should handle this situation. My 10 year old daughter’s school is doing a charity fund raiser. The kids received a magazine showing what prizes they will get for raising varying amounts of money. Both the magazine and the school are handling this fundraiser as a competition. At the $200 Raised level (on which my daughter has her heart set) she will WIN a family of rubber ducks. My daughter plans on turning in all the money she has saved over the last two years through chores, birthdays and holidays, a little over $200.00.

I don’t mind teaching kids about charity or encouraging giving but this is not the case here. My daughter feels she has to win the competition and the ducks are her aim. She isn’t learning charity through this event; I feel she is being taken advantage of. She could go door to door instead of turning in her own money but she probably won’t get enough for the ducks and she knows she has enough now to buy the win so she hasn’t the motivation to do any work.

We try to teach our daughter value and need vs. self-indulgence by having her buy her own toys with money she has saved. Prior to this school contest, she put a lot more thought into whether she truly wants a toy. This fund raiser has her competing for a prize against her peers and she wants to buy the win. But if she spends all her savings, I will hear ” buy me, buy me, buy me,” for the next year.

It is her money to spend on what she wants. Should I let her be manipulated for a good cause?

Tara T

Dear Tara,

This is yet another example of the disconnect between the morals which adults say they want to teach vs. what they are actually teaching. Marketing to children is often a wolf in sheep’s clothing. There is more than one huge corporation that is supported via having kids “raise money.”

There’s not much you can do to change the system but you can role model the values you hope to instill by volunteering, voting and giving to some charity that doesn’t give you a toy in return.

As to your specific situation, I would let your daughter decide for herself, but clearly explain that she will need to save for any new toys and it might take a while to do so. Ask her: “Are you ok with that?” She will probably give over her money for the ducks anyway but you will need to hold to your own intent to have her save again before buying more toys.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: your daughter is how old? The reason I ask is because there is a line being drawn in the sand here, and $200 is a lot of money for a young child to throw away. Perhaps in Dr. Brilliant’s world, it’s OK to let a child throw away such a large amount on pure crap, but where Granny comes from a parent would NEVER permit such a thing because economics are so close to the bone that even parents don’t have $200 they can afford to throw away. That is utility payments for a month!

Granny advises you to not be an idiot. There are limits to letting your kids make their own decisions. Would you allow a 10 year old to decide to get into a car with a stranger so that they can learn a lesson?

Put your foot down and be the adult. Proper role modeling by a parent should be more than watching a child make a grievous error and then saying “I told you so.” Good parenting also involves protecting your child from adult manipulations that they don’t understand. This contest is pure crap and you should no more tolerate it than you would drug pushers at the school. I’d complain to the administration if it were me; but then, Granny is famous for putting her big foot in her mouth.


About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at dr.brilliantcliche@yahoo.com and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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2 Responses to Taking advantage of our kids for charity:

    How the duck charity resolved:

    Dear Granny and Dr. Brilliant, Thanks for your advice. This is what we ended up doing. We told our daughter she can spend her money as she sees fit as it’s her money, and she can give it to charity if she wants. Charity is a good thing but we told her she can’t keep the prize. That has to go to charity too as it isn’t charity if you do it for the prize. Our daughter thought it over and decided she will go door to door a bit more and settle for the lesser $25.00 prize. We said that was ok as she would then be earning it through work and not just buying a prize. She decided to keep her own money for later use.

    Tara T

  2. Dear Tara,
    Let’s start with the last point first, its her money and she should do what she wants to do with it. Sounds good on the surface but true choices are informed ones and your ten year old is still developing. Since she has been thoughtful about spending money for toys in the past, she shows she has learned something from you. If you look at John Holland’s “What Color is Your Parachute?” you will see six personality types. Only a couple of these are predictable for successful salesmanship. When the school gives out a magazine fundraiser to the general student population, they’re undermining Holland’s theory. This could cause those who are not particularly suited for sales (according to Holland) to take an extreme position (like spending all one’s savings) and lose sight of what they had learned from home.
    This should not be about winning anything. This should be about the importance of earning something where the children will definitely get something in return. Selling candy bars so children in a school organization such as marching band is a worthwhile event. The children are definitely getting something out of the effort. Since all will equally benefit no matter who sells the most candy bars, the unfair stress of competition will not be an issue.

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