Trends: Pocket Money - To Give or Not to Give
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
Mangalore, Jun 19: Pocket money, junk food, fizzy drinks, modern gadgets, speed machines, branded clothes and accessories and many other lifestyle related habits and hobbies are all part and parcel of today’s children especially teenagers. So what if petrol prices in India have witnessed sharpest rise recently or Indian rupee has hit an all time low and our economy has been suffering from the impact of spiraling inflation? There seems to be a corresponding increase in the pocket money given to children by parents these days, even if it meant many parents struggling to meet the so called ‘requirements’ of their children.
The trend of pocket money has become a real nuisance for many parents as the requirements of their wards have gone beyond their means. With children of a few neo-rich families especially those who have seen a sudden upsurge in their fortunes thanks to the real-estate boom in Mangalore, indulging in reckless spending, other children get influenced and pressurize their parents for more pocket money just to become a part of the ‘gang’. The trend has affected not only the teenagers but also the higher primary and high school children for whom having large amounts of pocket money has become ‘fashionable’ or is just cooool. Working parents who don’t even find quality time to sit and reason it out with their children often succumb to the pressure tactics and give in completely forgetting that their filial love would become a double edged sword if goes unmonitored. There is every possibility that unrestricted pocket money would pave the way for wayward behavior, bad company and bad habits by children.
Savitha Shenoy, a mother of two teenagers says that she has a real problem on hand as her boys often cite the example of their friends and classmates who always have a stack of 500 rupee notes in their pockets. “Whenever I question about their asking too much pocket money they say I am old-fashioned and live in 19th century and my views are outdated. They cite the names of their classmates who spend freely and say they spend very less as compared to their friends. Such talks often lead to confrontation at our home as I find it difficult to meet their growing demands and many times either my children or we parents end up in tears”, says Savitha Shenoy who works as a private financial consultant. This must be the dilemma which many parents and teenagers face these days.
Not long ago ‘pocket money’ to ordinary middle and lower middle class children was something that was unheard of in a city like Mangalore. With the liberalization of economy and with the emergence of many middle class and a few more neo-rich families, the need to show off their newly acquired status and wealth has become too irresistible for many. The result, their young children are showered with trendy gadgets like high-end smart phones, iphones, ipods, are persuaded to spend recklessly on branded clothes, given pocket money much more than they need and are encouraged to eat out in posh joints.
Most parents these days definitely have an awkward and difficult problem on hand schools and colleges to find it difficult to arrest the trend of too much pocket money in the hands of teenagers. Donald Pereira, parent of a high-school student whose daughter graduated to college this year says “during every PTA and other meetings the Rector and Head Master of the school had requested the parents not to give mobiles or more pocket money to the students. Such a plea did not have any impact on parents. I think either the parents don’t realize the mistake they do or children succeed in blackmailing their parents into succumbing to their whims. The splurge by some students has a negative impact on other students also and I had difficulty in convincing my child to some extent”.
Another accountant who works for a builder says she has seen a big stack of notes in the pocket of child of the builder who is studying in 7th. His father has also given him a mobile when he is in higher primary school. “The father (a builder) became rich after the birth of his son and he believes his son has brought him oodles of good luck. He therefore does not hesitate to satisfy his every craze”, she says.
A high school teacher who prefers anonymity says that that many children of the so called nouveau riche in her school have been setting a bad precedent for other students. “There was this boy who used to entice other students with 50 or 100 rupee note to write notes for him. I think that is the worst scenario we can see apart from the tendency of young children falling prey to what is called as ‘soft’ drugs and other habits. The problem goes out of hand when the child enters the college where teachers are unable to have a close scrutiny on students unlike in high school”.
Whether one agrees or not this trend has a deleterious impact on young impressionable minds. So much so, getting Rs. 3000/- to 4,000/- per month as pocket money is not ‘cool’ any more. Anything above Rs 5000/- is just ok for many teenagers. Many college students prefer to go to hotels rather than getting packed lunch and a decent lunch costs not less than Rs. 50/-. Even at Rs. 50/- per day, lunch cost per month comes to Rs. 1,500/- for a teenager. Imagine the burden it has on a lower middle class family! Then there are other expenses that a normal college going student incurs. Some students complain there is no provision for having lunch in college premises and hence they don’t carry packed lunch. There is stiff competition in the field of education and providing decent education has become quite an expensive proposition for the middle class families. The irksome pocket money trend has only added to their existing burden.
Extra pocket money also means encouraging deviant habits among teenagers. With myriad attractions outside the college campus and countless temptations to indulge in, these teenagers fall easy victim to those who want to wreck in the lives of these young children, the future of this country and thus break the backbone of our economy.
There is no denying the fact pocket money offers a fantastic and surefire opportunity for youngsters to learn the basics of finance, the importance of money and the ways of managing it. Being too strict with their child may also be counter-productive as it may encourage the habit of stealing by the child to gratify its minor needs. But giving them lot of money at a young age when they are unable to discern between what is good and bad may prove to be perilous. Further, there should be a limit on the pocket money given to children so that they are able to learn the true value of money and don’t fritter away the hard earned money of their parents. It is not just the money that matters. It is also the question of the future of their children.