No, You Don't Need a North Face Jacket: Teaching My Kids Lessons About Brand Names

3 years ago

Since we're all in the Christmas shopping mood...

I posted something on Facebook about one of my twins saying "But all the kids in my school have one" in reference to wanting a North Face jacket the other day. The Sailor's exact response was, "I don't care if the other kids have Porsches, you're not getting one." We get the same line about all the other kids have iPhones... and here I questioned whether or not getting them basic cell phones was too obnoxious at this age. They can have an iPhone when they can pay their cell phone bill.

Anyway, someone messaged me soon after and said, "Do you think you'd be more willing to buy them the clothes they want if you had the money to?" No, really... someone said that. It was one of those moments when your eyes get big and your fingers freeze, which is probably a defense mechanism to prevent you from tearing into that poor soul.

Let me first tell you why I'm not buying the twins North Face jackets for Christmas.

  • 1.They have four coats; two heavy and two light. They're covered in the coat department.

  • 2. Their argument was based on keeping up with the mini-Jones's in their school, and that shit doesn't fly around here.

  • 3. They are growing -- FAST. I'm not spending $ on ANOTHER coat that won't fit next spring.

Credit: david_hwang.

I've tried to think of a way to explain this next part without being tacky... it has nothing to do with money or hating on expensive name brands. If you follow me on social media, you've seen my posts about Hunter boots, Michael Kors jackets, Apple products, Canon camera equipment. We could buy them those coats. It has everything to do with making wise decisions. I bought them an iPad last year because I knew that all three girls would use it, it had educational benefits, and it would last for a few years. I bought camera equipment, because I've already sold enough pictures to pay off 1/3 of the total cost of it. I buy them each one pair of good running shoes each season, because it's important to have good support for their growing feet, but the rest of what they wear is quality + absolutely great prices, which is why I constantly share on my Facebook page about the deals I find on

Just because you have the money, doesn't mean you need to spend the money. It doesn't mean your kids need to be branded, or that you don't have to teach them to be wise with their spending. 10-year-old children understand that they're growing fast. They're also smart enough to understand that just because everyone has something, doesn't mean it's the best or that they need it too.

When the Sailor and I were 19-years-old and married, we were both active duty, and because of our location and jobs, we were making good money -- better money than 19-year-olds needed to make. I bought the best of everything. I was at Ala Moana mall in Honolulu once a week, blowing my paycheck, partly because I grew up in a town where all the little girls had to carry this purse, wear these jeans, drive this car, and partly because I could. We'd stay in hotels for no reason, eat at expensive steak houses, and order pricey bottles of wine -- even though we weren't really wine drinkers. We were fools, and when I left the Coast Guard and we moved back to the mainland with our new twins, we had nothing to show for it. I wish I had learned this lesson much sooner.

I know you can get a North Face jacket for a good price sometimes. I realize it's a good brand. But when your child asks for a North Face jacket, it's not about the quality, or the price, or the warmth, or the need. It's 100% about keeping up appearances, being considered cool and fitting in. It's not the perfect time to grab your purse and run to the mall; it's the perfect time to teach your child a valuable lesson about good decisions, what really makes you cool, and about worrying more about how he and his classmates treat each other than the fact that they all match.

The twins are old enough this year to understand the value of not only the things we buy them, but the things we give them that don't have a monetary value. This window of opportunity with your children is short. Take advantage of it.

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