When a mom is too proud to accept charity, is she punishing her kid? What can you do to help her accept it?
Guest Blogger Gina tells her story:
When I was little, my mom couldn't afford to put me in the Girl Scouts. Lucky for me (or so I thought) this super nice woman, Mrs. Nordling, came to the door with a uniform for me so that I could join my classmates. When my mom saw it, she shut the door in the woman's face and said, "I don't accept charity." I remember it clearly because I was so excited to get the uniform and then, just as quickly as it came, it was snatched away.
Thinking about it now, I figure Mrs. Nordling's daughter came home and said, "Mom, Gina can't join Girl Scouts because her mom can't afford it." Mrs. Nordling was just trying to help and her intentions were in the right place, but her gesture turned into a terrible moment for me in my childhood, and obviously embarrassed my mother. I personally think my mom should have accepted it. Her pride ended up punishing me -- and I often think that if she had just let me have it, I probably wouldn't even remember the event.
Knowing what it's like to be a kid who cannot have what their classmates have, I would like to be a Mrs. Nordling, but I'd like to do it the right way. How does a parent handle it when their kid's friend can't do things because they have no money? We asked momlogic contributor and educator Jill Spivack for advice -- and here's what she told me:
- Reach Out. I think it would have been best for the mother of the child to have called your mother when you weren't around and reached out (gently) to say "I know that my daughter mentioned that Gina would like to join the Scouts but that money is a little bit tight for you guys right now. So I'd be more than happy to cover the cost of xyz....." It would have been a nice way to reach out without having the children involved in the process -- and would have been a kind gesture on the other mom's part. Of course, there's always the possibility that money was a very sensitive issue for your mom, but I think, if the delivery was nice on the part of the other mother, the worst that could have happened is that your mom could have gratefully declined the offer.
- Explain the situation to your child. I would recommend that parents explain to their children that some families are able to spend money on some things while for others it may be a bit tougher, and to encourage empathy on the part of their child toward the child that may not be able to participate (not bragging about certain activities in front of them, etc.)
- Find low cost alternatives. I'd encourage the children to play together doing activities that may not cost much (or any) money. Inviting the child to play at home doing activities that are available without any cost may enable the kids to continue to enjoy each others' company without putting anyone in a difficult position.