- December 16, 2011
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I’m definitely dating myself on this one, but I remember going to the drive-in theater with my best friend’s family when I was only eight or nine years old. We would all pile into the family’s van conversion and just before we pulled into the entrance his father would turn around and give us the queue to climb up into the overhead compartment. By the time we reached the pay booth, all four kids were completely out of sight and he would purchase only two tickets, for him and his wife. I thought the drive-in charged by the car but later realized that this wasn’t the case. My friend’s dad was one of the nicest people you could meet. He did charity work and constantly volunteered to help others. But the bottom line was that he somehow rationalized defrauding an institution in order to save a buck. Which begs the question, “What do we do when no one is looking?”
We think to ourselves that it is not a big deal. That the big companies make so much off of us, that they inflate prices so much that it really won’t affect anyone.
The truth is that many of us are probably guilty of similar offenses. They come in different forms — buying and returning items after using them; stuffing our six-year-old into a stroller and covering him with a blanket while reminding him that he is only three to get a bargain price; getting too much change at the grocery store and not saying anything. We think to ourselves that it is not a big deal. That the big companies make so much off of us, that they inflate prices so much that it really won’t affect anyone. And that no one is getting hurt or harmed by our ‘minor infractions’. But we are rationalizing, and in many cases asking our children to help us act in a dishonest way. We have to wonder what we are teaching our kids for the 10-20 dollars we’re trying to save. And then what hypocrites we are if we turn around and call out and discipline our own kids for being dishonest in school or elsewhere? What message are we sending to our children?
Being a parent, I realize that no one is perfect and the lure of saving a buck is tempting, especially when times are tough. But the question is – at what price? Will the savings really make that much of a difference? And if so, then do you really need whatever it is that badly? The real value is in how we utilize opportunities to teach and guide our children down the right path. Like it or not, children are observant and learn from what we do. Showing your children the ethics to do what’s right is priceless. Whether because of conscience, belief in Karma, G-d or that you just want to keep your children on an honest path in life, the basic fact is that we do not want others to be deceitful with us. So the way I look at it is I will have to forego the savings and save myself some later grief by modeling the right behavior now. Not always fun, but I’ve come to believe that it is the only way to go.
Filed in: Parents