When My Daughter Said *THIS* About Walmart, We Needed a Serious Chat
Like almost all mothers, I tend to think my children are perfect, with a few flaws that could be tweaked. My 14-year old daughter, Rowan, is my special angel, a girl filled with so much empathy, kindness and a heart full of love, I feel I’ve won the jackpot with her. Last year, at her private school, she initiated a fundraiser to bring tampons, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes to the homeless. So when we were recently in Mexico, and I took her to Walmart to buy some staples for our vacation, I was shocked to hear her say, ‘So we’re Walmart shoppers now?’ Her tone was 75 percent curiosity, and 25 percent pure snobbiness. This is because she has never been to Walmart.
My daughter’s perception of Walmart shoppers is based purely on mean-spirited YouTube videos of people in Walmart parking lots, and also the site peopleofwalmart.com, where photos of Walmart shoppers, along with kind of funny but mostly cruel captions, are posted. When that site launched almost a decade ago, it became an instant success, just by making fun of Walmart shoppers. Part of the problem is that she does live a privileged life. That’s her reality and all she’s ever known.
Some of her friends, too, clearly aren’t Walmart shoppers either. A few weeks ago, my daughter had a friend over and when I complimented her jacket, this 14 year-old responded, ‘Thank you! It was on sale at Nordstrom’s for $1200!’ Sigh.
According to this Psychology Today article on how to handle snobs, it says ‘Social class and socialization undoubtedly play roles as well: People born into families with qualities that society values, whether it’s education, wealth, or status, may grow up with a sense of privilege because they’re just used to getting special treatment.’ I don’t think my daughter has a sense if privilege or gets special treatment. But somehow, even though she couldn’t care less about what brand of clothes she wears, she had formed an opinion about Walmart.
Near my condo in Mexico, the Walmart is really the only place to shop, not only for toiletries, toys and arts and craft material, but also for grocery staples. It’s an efficient one-stop shop. And why would I buy a $20 bottle of suntan lotion at a tourist shop, when I could get 5 bottles of the same suntan lotion at Walmart for the same price?
And then it got worse. My daughter is usually such a ‘good’ person – a definite people-pleaser – so much so that I’ve never had to yell at her. I think I’ve yelled at her just once in 14 years after she forgot to text me when she was supposed to. But, when we were at the checkout buying recyclable green Walmart bags with the word ‘Walmart’ on them to carry our stuff, I said to her they would make great beach bags, because I wouldn’t care if they got ruined. My daughter then said, ‘Then everyone is going to know we shop at Walmart.’ A wave of anger washed over me. I was pissed.
We needed to have a very serious chat. Yes, my heart sank. At that moment, I felt I had failed as a parent. I didn’t recognize my own daughter, the one who insisted that we volunteer washing dogs at a dog rescue, just the day before. When did my oh-so- empathetic daughter turn into a seemingly entitled young teenager? And, yes, I do blame myself. Why? Because, in Canada, I admit, I’ve never shopped at Walmart either, so in that vein, I may not have been the best role model. That is, until this past weekend, when I went on my first visit to a Walmart. I don’t have anything against Walmart. It’s purely logistical. There isn’t a Walmart that’s less than a 30 minute drive from my house.
Rowan. Boy, did we have a chat after she asked, ‘So we’re Walmart shoppers now?’
My daughter shops for shampoo, lotions, and makeup with her friends, using a debit/credit card that her wonderful grandmother gave to her. (She’s her grandmother! So, of course I don’t care that she spoils her! It’s in their job description.) My daughter’s compass on how much things cost (the same shampoo I found at Walmart costs three times as much at our local pharmacy, where my daughter and I usually shop) is limited to stores we can walk to.
Boy, did I have a talk with her after we left the store. It was a talk that left her in tears. I told her there was nothing wrong with Walmart, that everything is cheaper, and that she sounded like an entitled brat.
Still, throughout her entire life, she never seemed to care, or notice, that she was wearing jackets that cost more than most people’s monthly mortgage payments, or that last year, for example, when she needed shoes for a party while she was with her dad, she came home with shoes that cost $500. I told her father that no 13 year-old needs $500 shoes, and he readily agreed. But – God bless him – he explained that he has no concept of what women’s shoes should cost.
I told my daughter that we may not be regular Walmart shoppers, but I also asked her, ‘What makes you think that people who shop at Walmart are any different than us?’ She couldn’t come up with an answer. I told her she sounded like a snob and asked if she understood what that meant? She did. I asked her if she would like someone less if they shopped at Walmart, as opposed to the expensive teen stores she gets her clothes from? Her answer was ‘no.’ I asked her if she could hear how she sounded by saying, ‘So we’re Walmart shoppers now?’ She did. I asked her if she could see that it sounded like she was looking down on others. This made her cry. But at least she understood.
I was harsh, considering I know my daughter is not a snob, but at that moment, she certainly sounded like one. For the rest of our vacation, even though I could afford any restaurant we wanted to go to, I told her, ‘It’s too expensive,’ showing her the price, and we would head to a cheaper restaurant. I did this numerous times, so my daughter could learn that, yes, 99 per cent of the population, think about money all the time. When she wanted a hot stone massage, and even though, yes, I could afford it, I told her we could only afford a regular, relaxing massage, and showed her the difference in price. After our chat, she never once complained. She understood that money does not fall off trees. And she felt awful about what she had said.
I also am planning to have a chat with her father, so we are on the same page. I don’t care that her father and grandparents spend thousands of dollars on brand name clothes for her, because my daughter doesn’t expect it. Like I’ve said, it’s all she’s ever known. Until we had our Walmart chat. But I know her father doesn’t want to raise an entitled, snobby child either.
According to this Psychology Today article, there are nine signs your child has ‘entitlement issues,’ including, ‘Are they more concerned about themselves than others?’ And ‘Do they constantly want more and more.’ My daughter doesn’t demonstrate ANY of these traits. Our chat really has made her think about money. And, yes, I’m going to take her to Walmart, at least once every other month for her staples, even if it is a drive. Trust me, she learned a lesson.
And, yes, we are now Walmart shoppers.