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.