DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is at a new school this year, and he has asked for a fancy computer for Christmas so that he can have the same one as his friends. I checked with his instructors, and I know that the computer he has is sufficient for him to complete his work. But peer pressure is real, and he says he only wants one thing for Christmas -- and this is it.
I get that my son thinks he is being thoughtful in selecting only one item for Christmas, but the reality is that this computer costs over $1,000, when his perfectly good computer that we just bought him this year was only a few hundred dollars. How can I let him down easily? We can’t afford to buy him a computer that he doesn’t even need. -- No New Computer
DEAR NO NEW COMPUTER: Speak directly to your son, and make it crystal clear that you will not be buying him the computer he requested this Christmas. Assure him that it is not a punishment. Remind him that you recently purchased a computer for him that his instructors have indicated is more than adequate to handle his course load.
Don’t skirt the issue -- your son wants to have the computer that his peers have. Let him know that you understand his reasoning while you also know that it is not possible to stay in step with his peers all the time. He will have to learn how to embrace his own life and to value the things he has, even when they are different from his friends’. Reinforce that what you own does not measure your personal value.