How Do You Tell Your Kid That The Sales Clerk Is A Big Phoney?

There’s a great post over on WiseBread by someone called the Frugal Duchess, about how her 10-year-old kid was schmoozed a little too successfully by a sales clerk at a tween clothing store in the mall.

After the movie, my daughter gushed about the really nice salesclerk as we ran back to the store.

“She was so nice,” my daughter said. “She spent so much time with me. I just want to go by and say ‘hi’ to her. I promised her that I would come back after the movie.”

At that point, the Duchess had to rub some ground reality glass in her kid’s face, which no sensible parent enjoys. But she worried about how to break it to her kid in a way that wouldn’t make her too cynical or distrustful, or screw with her self-esteem too much. After all, this was really just about being a wise consumer and learning to shop smartly.

What would you have done? Would you have told her the truth about the salesclerk? Should I have continued to let her believe that the cool clerk was a friend?

We think this is a great topic to discuss—what’s the best way to help your child develop the critical thinking skills she needs to not be a dork in the marketplace?

And what happens if you don’t teach your kid that? Here’s an illustration: Back in college, I repeatedly shopped at an overpriced clothing store because the owner had been very rude to me on my first visit. Her attitude triggered every deeply held insecurity I’d developed from growing up poor—so quite irrationally I set out to spend my way into her approval, even while hating her the entire time. It was only years later that I realized how stupid I’d been—how my shopping behavior had been driven by all the wrong impulses and emotional attachments. Which is why now I just smear dog poop on the clothes at boutiques.

“Telling My Daughter the Truth about Her New ‘Friend,’ The Salesclerk!” [Wise Bread] (Thanks to EraserGirl!)
(Photo: D Sharon Pruitt)