The tooth fairy seems to leave a little less around here than she does at other houses. What’s up with that? Is there a 1-800 number I can call and lodge a formal complaint?

There is a child in my daughter’s class who gets a crisp $10 bill for every tooth she loses, except for the front 4 which earned her $20 each. Suddenly that shiny toonie my kids find under their pillow has them questioning why the tooth fairy likes her teeth better than theirs.

It would be a whole lot easier if kids came with a parenting manual. Chapter 7 could have a section on finances. Here we’d find an allowance rate chart which would spell out how much a 7 year old would earn each week and how it was to be divided. Another section would cover seasonal events. Here we’d find the going rates for teeth, suggested amounts for Christmas gifts and appropriate budgets for birthdays.

It doesn’t work that way. Life isn’t fair. Every family has a different set of financial circumstances. Some kids will always have more.

Recently in the post 8 Ways to Simplify Christmas, Aluminum Case wrote this:

…. Limiting gifts for children can be a problem too. You know the kids are going to go compare what they got with their friends. If they get a much smaller haul than their friends, it could lead to bitterness towards you.

Will they really be bitter if they get less stuff? Will they resent me once they find out that I am the tooth fairy? Is it really my responsibility to pay the going rate in the tooth fairy economy? Should I be contacting the parents of my kid’s friends to make sure we’re buying the same number of Christmas gifts?

It’s not about keeping things equal. I am more concerned with their character development and appreciating what they have rather than focusing on how much less they get.

My kids have never been to Disney and there is a distinct possibility we’ll never go. Nowhere in the parenting manual does it say that to fulfill my parenting responsibilities I have to buy them lots of stuff or take them on expensive vacations. In truth, some of the most well mannered respectful children I know come from families that live simply.

Every family must make their own priorities. There is nothing wrong with taking kids on expensive vacations, buying them loads of stuff at Christmas or leaving crisp $10 bills under their pillow from the tooth fairy. It only becomes an issue when the expectation is that every parent must do the same or the kids will cry foul and be bitter and resentful towards them.

Perhaps years from now I’ll look back and wish we’d bought more stuff and gone on more vacations. Perhaps one day they will be bitter and resentful over our life choices. It’s still too early to tell.

When I look around at some of the most remarkable people I know, the amount of loot they accumulated in their childhood has very little correlation with how successful and satisfied they are in life now. I take comfort in knowing that for now we’re making the best choices for our particular situation and while others are making the best choices for theirs.

Kathryn works in public relations and training for a non profit. In her off hours, she volunteers as a financial coach helping ordinary Canadians with the basics of money management. Her passions include personal finance and adult education. Kathryn, along with her husband and two children live in Ontario.

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