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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Kathryn has been a staff writer for MDJ since January 2009. During the day she works in an office. In her off hours, she volunteers as a financial coach helping ordinary Canadians with the basics of money management. Kathryn, along with her husband and two children live in Ontario.
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11 years ago

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Link Wheels
11 years ago

It is much more important to grow up in a loving and caring family than have more “stuff”. My parents never had much to give except their love and my relationship with them has been nothing but excellent. Spend time with your kids, show them a good time without spending. As long as they have your love and attention that is all that matters.
Regards, David Pagotto

Dianne M
11 years ago

to Cannon Fodder- your comments made my day. I am still laughing, very clever.

cashback cards
11 years ago

I have heard of some expensive tooth fairies out there as well. I know I will be not one of those. But, it’s crazy to think of $20 or even $10 for a tooth for you kid. But maybe that’s what our economy is moving towards. Next it will be credit cards instead of bills.

11 years ago

cannon_fodder – wow!

Four Pillars
11 years ago

CF – brilliant comment! Painful, but brilliant. :)

11 years ago

CF: If there was an award for the best reply in 2009, I’d vote for yours! Very clever.

Caper in NL
11 years ago

I think this article is very timely and appropriate. I agree that that children that don’t get ‘everything’ they want have a bettter understanding of the value of work and money. At my house the tooth fairy gives $1 to $2 for a tooth and yes, my kids talk to other kids that get up to $20, but there are also kids that get the same as my kids. I think this does teach kids a life lesson; the lesson is not that some kids are liked better by the tooth fairy; it is: not everyone is treated the same, but people can change things. Although my kids can’t change what the tooth fairy gives them, they can find other ways to earn money (and they do). This lesson can actually put them in a better finanacial position then their friends.

Prakash Dheeriya
11 years ago

Canon Fodder
Your post is very hilarious! Worth every bit!

11 years ago

I think the molar of the story is that we should tell our kids the tooth, even if it won’t be uppereciated. Kids learn from incisor even outside the home.

We should chew on what Michael James said about kids trying to grind parinse down about what is fair – do you think it is accidental?

Brace yourself, but I think he’s on the cuspid of a crowning achievement which bridges our understanding. You might be enameled with brushing off kids whining by thinking them as holely selfish. Doing that could prevent a positive outgum in their later years – I’m pretty denture about that.

Straightening out our kids is sometimes numbing but always the white thing to do. The depth and breath of these lessons means we have to pick our battles, but we should never just give them lip service.

As the cavity of these situations grows, we will never be at a floss for bite-sized words of wisdom. At some point, the significance will crest and the scope of the root problem will be capped.

Well, I have to get some filing done before giving my colleague Flo a ride home – she is smiles out of my way.