"My Daughter Is Becoming Materialistic"

A mom seeks help about her increasingly brand-conscious teen.

Peer Group Pressure

Q: My 14-year-old daughter is bright and kind, and very happy-go-lucky most of the time. But she constantly asks for expensive, brand-name clothes, spends her money on lavish (in my mind) gifts for her friends, and generally seems to think that money grows on trees. I guess I'm also troubled by the fact that she?s so young to have this "keeping up with the Joneses" attitude.

Why is it so important to have the most expensive jeans or have the super fancy cell phone? Perhaps getting a job will help her figure out that money is easily spent, but hard to earn? On the other hand, I do want her to enjoy being a kid for as long as she can. We are a middle-class family that can provide for our children, but I don't want her to be careless with money or obsessed with brands. Is my daughter too materialistic? Help!

A: You've likely raised your daughter to be cautious with money and to not adhere to a "keeping up the Joneses" attitude. Unfortunately, it sounds like she's gravitated to a social group that spends money lavishly on name brands. The probability is high that any teen and his or her friends will "just have to have" the latest cool gadget or clothing item; certain labels and gadgets symbolize cohesion in peer groups and acceptance is ever-important for adolescents.

It's difficult for parents when they realize that they've raised a child with values different than theirs. However, adolescents often take on the values of their peer group over the values of Mom and Dad.

But there is good news: Your daughter's behavior may be only temporary. Right now she's established herself separate from you, and she's clinging to her group of friends in order to make this distinction. However, most children return to the values of their parents in their mid-to-late twenties. Although these values will be tweaked to their generation's characteristics, the ideas that Mom and Dad instilled during the formative years (six- to 12-years-old) usually resurface.

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