Recently, I witnessed this scene outside our local makolet (grocery store). A mom and child were going at it over the child’s apparently unauthorized five shekel credit purchase of some candy. Mom reminded Daughter that she is not allowed to buy candy on Mom’s account in the makolet without express permission. Seeing me, Mom added (for my benefit?) that the store owner has specific instructions to the effect that Daughter is not allowed to buy on credit without a phone call or note from Mom. I asked whether Mom expected the store owner to remember these instructions when Daughter shows up at the checkout line. I live in a community of close to 600 families and over 2,000 children, so I was only wondering whether Mom thought that the poor makolet owner must commit to memory the special spending instructions of each mother for each child in our community.
The issue here is who is responsible for teaching our children fiscal maturity. Do we rely on the store owner? Do we rely on their street smarts? Do we rely on their friends to educate them? Or perhaps we ourselves should take the time to sit our children down and explain to them our philosophies and habits in dealing with money! Revolutionary, is it not? Should we really expect that the makolet owner teach our kids about frugality and wise spending? If that were our expectation, then why does he place every conceivable type of candy at the checkout line? We might then also expect the bank and credit card companies to be responsible for teaching us about the careful use of loan tools and credit cards! Sound absurd? It is. Just as the banks are not a branch of the Ministry of Education, so the shopkeeper should not serve as a surrogate parent. Ultimately, it is parents who must bear the brunt of teaching children how to shop with care and planning. Leaving it to others shirks a major responsibility in parenting.
Epilogue: It became clear a little later that Daughter did not charge the purchase – she paid for it out of her own money. Bless her — and Mom – and the makolet guy, too.