Here are some relevant excerpts from her letter:
Parents that have been blessed with wealth certainly have every right to spend it how they see fit, and if they choose to purchase Juicy pajamas for their daughter for $150, kol hakavod. It is their money. Quite frankly it is none of my business and I do not resent it in any way.
My issue however is what has been going on recently with both girls AND BOYS alike as far as brand name clothing is concerned. Many of us do not realize that many sixth and seventh grade girls are going to school with $175 knapsacks. Sweatshirts that run $75 a piece, and can’t be worn more than once a month. I recall being in school and wearing the same pair of school shoes all winter. Now the girls need their Ugg boots ($110), and three pairs of shoes.
Many high school boys are now wearing ties that I am told run upwards of $150. That is correct…..$150. Their glasses (and g-d forbid you should only have one pair) are all designer names many of which I have never ever heard of. Belts can run over $200 and yet somehow so many of these yeshiva bochurim have them.
She then follows this up with the "parent's lament" of stating that she'd really like to say "no" to her kids, but she's afraid that they'll be ostracized, shunned and forever scarred for life if they can't be like their peers. (Okay, she didn't use those terms, but that's the sentiment). She also seems to think that most of the people who say "no" don't have school age kids.
For what it's worth, the first commenter gave the best and most succienct answer you could ask for -- just say "no."
Well, here's my two cents -- and I have three older school age kids. Just say "no."
*No one* (and I don't care if you're Donald Trump, the President of the U.S., etc.) *needs* a $150 tie. *No one* needs a $200 belt. No one *needs* Ugg boots (who would want to wear something called "Ugg" anyway?) or sweatshirts that can't be worn more than once a month (what are those anyway?). Your job, as a parent, is to see that their *needs* are met, not their wants.
I'll make two points about keeping up with the Joneses' kids:
1. If the Joneses' kids are going to make fun of your kids because their not wearing $150 ties and $200 belts, then I think your kids need new friends. How a person deals with others who are less fortunate than themselves says a lot about their character. Do you want your kids to hang around with people who snobbishly look down at others, or do you want your kids to hang around with other kids who value people for who they are and not what designer labels they are wearing?
2. While saying no to your kids in the short run may make you unpopular, in the long run, you will be doing a great service to your kids. You will be teaching them the meaning of fiscal responsibility. You will be teaching them to learn to live within their means. You will be teaching them that it is far more important to enjoy what you have, rather than be envious of what other people have.
So, Chana, my advice to you is to do the right thing. Just say no.
Related Post: Living In One's Means - A Letter From the Yated