Why Do You Disapprove Of My Capitalist Kid’s Lemonade Stand?

Writer Helaine Olen has a young son, and he engaged in a classic American summer activity: he started a lemonade stand on his quiet suburban street. He earns some spending money and probably learns some important lessons about customer service and profit, and the neighbors who patronize his stand get a refreshing beverage. But, Olen writes, her son’s customers want more than that. They ask what charitable cause his lemonade stand is raising money for, and disapprove when they learn that his stand is a for-profit venture. What the heck?

In an audio essay for public radio’s “Marketplace,” she reflected on lemonade, commerce, and modern parenting:

Philanthropic lemonade stands are admirable, but they should not be the default for our kids’ summer fun. Lemonade stands teach our children valuable lessons on how to run a small business, an activity as classically American as, well, the lemonade stand. To expect more than that seems as joyless and humorless as much else in modern parenting, where everything, it seems, needs to be for some greater goal.

Teaching your child about the satisfaction of earning money, then how to save it or spending it wisely seems like a good enough goal to me, but I’m a personal finance blogger. That’s what I would think. What should kids get out of running a lemonade stand? What should the minimum age be to start a for-profit venture?

Why are people attacking lemonade stands? [Marketplace]

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