Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Parenting Magazines and Product Pushing

I've read my share of parenting magazines over the years, believe me. From the ones you pick up at the doctor's office while you wait (and wait and wait) to be seen to ones I've subscribed to. In my opinion, much of them is fluff, some of it is junk science, and a lot of it caters to what women want to hear (i.e. "Cut yourself some slack," "You're a great mom," "Lose the pregnancy weight without much effort" "Get rid of guilt in 3 easy steps."). I expect that; they're trying to sell magazines.

What they also cater to, and what drives me crazy, is their advertisers -- companies designed to milk your parenting anxieties and baby-love for whatever they can. Products that promise to stimulate your child's brain! Or cultivate the next musical genius! Or teach them three different languages simultaneously! Or more commonly, dress for success. For example, there's usually a section of clothes the magazine loves, complete with baby cardigan sweaters ($80), leather boots ($120) and a onesie with a simple embellishment on it ($30). Perhaps it's simply a sign of our affluent culture; or perhaps it has something to do with people having smaller families, but what thinking parent would actually pay that kind of money for an outfit that a baby would outgrow in three months?

Today, I was reading this article in Wondertime magazine about the "best" bikes for kids. The cheapest one? $90 for a trike. In my opinion, a trike costing over $30 or $40 is highway robbery, given the 4 or 5 months a child might use such a vehicle -- 8 or 10 months if by some miracle they haven't outgrown it next summer. But then, it wouldn't matter that your child outgrew the trike, because the perfect bike for your preschooler and kindergartner is a mere $180! It gets better, because a year or two later, you could buy one for the bargain price of $190. And two years after that, buy another for $233.

At our house, we buy reasonably priced bikes and hand them down until they're broken or worn out. Even given the fact that we expect our bikes to get more use, we'd consider it a splurge to pay more than $50 for a bike at this point in our children's lives. Perhaps when they're teenagers and use their bikes to get to and from school we'd consider paying more, but luxury bikes for little kids? Not gonna happen here.


K said...

It cracks me up when magazines suggest that I pay more for my child's outfit than I would pay for my own. I'm not going to outgrow it next season (and I'm not going to expel bodily fluids on it this season!)

Kacy said...

I totally agree.

alligood said...

I read that article this week while (suprise, suprise) waiting in the doctor's office! :-) I also thought the prices were absolutely astounding - especially for the bike with no pedals! Sheesh! I will, however, admit to buying a pricey trike and NOT regretting it. I bought a Kettler for Will when he was 2. He rode it until he was 5 and we bought him a big bike. By that time, Nate or Drew could use the trike and they used it until this year. Sometimes, nicer things do make sense because they can be used for a long time. This trike adjusts very easily to accomodate an 18 month old child (really), clear up to a 5 year old (REALLY!) To me, those 3 years worth of use, and the subsequent hand-down-ability are worth the $100 price tag. In only 1 year Jake will be ready for the trike, so this trike will have had 9 years of good service for our family - only about $15 per year, which is a good value.
Hmmmmmm..... I don't know why I felt the need to defend my tricycle choices to you! :-) I truly agree with the spirit of your post!

Christina Bartholomew said...

Allison, I totally agree with the concept of buying something that can be used over and over (i.e. the 7 years of use we got out of our double stroller), so I'm not going to be condemning you for your trike choice. =)

~W E N D Y ~ said...

That is so totally crazy how they try to 'persuade' parents to buy these things for that much money. I'd rather use the $$ to buy food for my family.

dedesmith32 said...

You amaze me Christina! I love reading about your family and all the things you do! Thanks for the inspiration!

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