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Material Girl

Be as shabby as you like when you're shopping for groceries or running errands. But when you go to your child's school, dress up.

Ambika, mother of 7-year-old Sanaa, cannot get over her daughter's material hang-ups. "I was wearing a perfectly fine pair of leather slippers when I went to pick up Sanaa's report card, and as soon as we were in the car, she turned on me in anger, and asked me how I could come to her school wearing these slippers. 'You should have worn your silver sandals instead,' Sanaa wailed. What is happening to the children today? We were never so materialistic!"

Ambika tried to explain to Sanaa that such things don't matter, but Sanaa was adamant.

"That's just too bad," says Ambika. "Sanaa will have to learn to accept people as they are, and that she shouldn't care what her friends think. It's not good to be so influenced by peer pressure."

Perhaps Ambika needs to rethink her philosophy. Although the wisdom in what she is saying cannot be denied, taking the trouble to dress well for her daughter will not hurt her. Wouldn't you like your daughter to be well groomed when she comes out with you? Many a parent spends time dressing up their children, making them wear their best clothes and making sure their hair is in place when taking them out with family or friends. Why shouldn't your child expect the same from you?

Where children are concerned, little things matter far more than the big picture. It doesn't matter if you are classically beautiful and men go wild over your almond eyes and chiseled bone structure. In your child's eyes, none of that counts. What counts is how well you dress. Don't wear torn shoes and shabby clothes to your child's school. Make an effort. You may think it's superficial, but you're dealing with children here. Don't expect them to have a lot of depth. It's not realistic, and it's not fair for you to expect your child to overlook the fact that you're wearing Hawaii chappals because you love her to pieces and are very intelligent and that should be enough.

Be as shabby as you like when you're lounging around, shopping for groceries or running errands. Wear what you want to work, although you will probably need to dress formally if you are in a job that requires client interaction. But when you go to your child's school, take the trouble to dress up.

Many parents, especially with an intellectual bent of mind, don't care how they look or how they dress, and they don't think it should matter to their child. They lay little importance to these things, and shrug off a child's request that they carry a better bag or wear nicer sandals.

True, some children don't give any importance to how their parents look, but if your child does, then don't try and convince her otherwise. Just because dressing well to impress your child's friends isn't a big deal in your eyes, it holds a great deal of importance to your child. Don't dress up for yourself, dress up for your child. If you can't do this for her, then don't expect her to drop everything and come running to you when you need her. Many children, who grew up ashamed of their parents, are not very close to them.

In addition, if you think about it, it takes so little to make your child proud of you. You don't need to be a hotshot career woman for her to brag about you. Even if you make a delicious sandwich your child will be proud. And if all it takes a sassy pair of sandals, put them on!

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