With the kids returning to school in the next couple of weeks, the retailers have come out with their latest ads promoting clothes that will make them cool or guarantee them an epic year. These ads place an emphasis on looking good and being popular. Kids buy into it because, well, that’s what they think is important; that what you look like or wear is more important than what you are.
Years ago, these retailers would have marketed their back-to-school sales for the adults because that’s who had the buying power. These retailers, taking their cues from MTV, have realized that although the parents may still hold the purse strings it’s the kids who control the parents because their parents want them to be happy. These are the parents who want their kids to have every advantage or every advantage as they see it. They turn around and buy their kids anything they want. They teach their kids that they deserve everything merely because they exist.
These parents fail to teach their kids fundamental life lessons due to the fact the lessons aren’t important in the culture of entitlement. They show their kids that getting and having is important. Working for something or earning it doesn’t really matter.
School shouldn’t be a popularity contest. It shouldn’t matter who has the best clothes or backpack. It should be about learning. The Philadelphia School District and Camden School District got it right when they started a uniform dress policy. This puts the emphasis on learning which is where it should be.
When a child wears a uniform to school, no one knows how much or how little money they have. The kid doesn’t have to go through angst in the morning making sure everything they put on won’t end up making them a source of ridicule for the rest of the year. The social playing field, once that child enters the school’s doors, is level. Students can worry about their grades and not whether everyone will find out that because they’re poor they have to shop at a thrift store.
Parents need to teach their kids that fashion and physical appearance shouldn’t define them; that how they treat people or view the world does. Education should always trump popularity. A positive self-esteem and self-worth should always trump peer pressure. The decision of the parent should always trump the desires of the child.