6 Common Kid Purchases That Start Fights But Shouldn’t

"Wait, why did you buy THAT?"

by Adam Bulger
Originally Published: 

When my wife bought a baby bottle, she didn’t think it would come with a fight. I was certain my daughter was too old for her bedtime milk bottle. After months of use, the bottles had collected mold so I tossed them, thinking it was a perfect opportunity to stop using them. When I saw my wife got new ones, I lost my cool.

Flipping out over a new baby bottle wasn’t my finest hour. But I can take some small comfort in knowing that I’m not the first husband to get angry over a spouse’s purchase. Buying stuff for our kids is more of an emotional act than we often give it credit for. As New York City Psychotherapist and parent coach Olivia Bergeron noted, we’re often driven to make those purchases by guilt or fear.

“Purchasing in this culture can be very problematic,” Bergeron said, adding that a lot of moms and dads fear they’re not doing enough.“And that I think a lot of parents feel a lot of guilt.” This type of thinking causes a lot of issues. Below, Bergeron and a legion of parents discuss the most common fights caused by kid purchases, why they happen, and offers some perspective so you can settle them without losing your cool.

Baby Things For Kids That Might Have Outgrown Them

Parents don’t always agree on timelines for child development and some purchases land on the fault lines of the disagreement, such as my replacement baby bottle. This results in couples often sparring over the need to buy baby items such as pacifiers and diapers as their kids get older. Both parents are driven by a variation on the same fear: they don’t want to make a mistake as parents that’ll harm their kids. But Bergeron stressed that kids develop at different rates. Milestones are misleading: There’s no sense if worrying about some specific age when kids should stop using a bottle, a pacifier, or diapers. The fight was silly because it wasn’t about the bottle; it really stemmed from our need to work together on our daughter’s sleep routine. Once we were on the same page, we ended nighttime bottles a few weeks later.

Pink Stuff For Boys

One Christmas, a relative bought her three baseball-obsessed boys batting gloves. She gave each boy a glove in their favorite color, including a pink one for her youngest boy. When her husband grumbled about the pink glove, she snapped back, saying pink was the boy’s favorite color and he needed to deal with that. It’s an inherently ridiculous exchange when you consider history. The idea that blue is for boys and pink is for girls didn’t take hold until the mid-20th century. Bergeron said a child’s color preference is driven more by curiosity than gender and it’s better for parents to give them room “Their interests will change over time,” she said. “Refrain from judging their choices as they explore. Their ‘job’ as children is to explore.” Worrying about it is ridiculous for you today and may leave your son ill-equipped for the fashions of the future.

Violent Video Games

Guns and gun-related violence are flashpoint issues for today’s families, which Bergeron said is understandable. When parents are on opposite sides of the gun debate, they need to talk about what values they want to teach their children, which is not going to be a fun or easy conversation. It helps, however, to make a distinction between real life guns and games that use guns. While the American Psychological Association said there was a clear link between violent games and aggression in a 2015 review there’s a growing consensus among researchers that video games don’t lead to violent behavior. In March, Patrick Markey, head of the Interpersonal Research Laboratory at Villanova University, told Gizmodo that the last five years have yielded an “explosion” of research concluding that gamers aren’t prone to aggression. In any case, the argument is not so much about video games as it is limiting the stimuli your kids spend their time with. Start the discussion about screen time limits first and then go from there.

“Obnoxious” Books, Movies And Games

Massachusetts mom of two Hope Roth wanted her kids to love books. Nonetheless, she was wary of resorting to books about talking toilets and bionic booger boys. “I was not happy when my husband bought my daughter all of the Captain Underpants books,” she said. “I think they’re obnoxious.” She’s not alone in that opinion: the series has polarized parents since its first publication. But when you remember that “obnoxious” is in the eye of the beholder, and that one parent’s charmingly energetic toy or game can easily be another’s headache, the fight starts to seem pretty silly. Roth reached an Underpants accord that other parents could use as a model for their own negotiations over polarizing cultural materials. Since her husband bought the book, he accepted the sole responsibility for its content. “The compromise is that [my husband] reads them to our daughter and I don’t,” Roth said.

Adult Dress Up Items For Young Girls

While Connecticut mom Ellen treasures the rainy afternoons she spends with her preschool-age daughter painting nails and trying on lipstick, her husband Rob is uncomfortable with the at-home salon sessions, saying his daughter’s too young for makeup. Bergeron said Rob’s discomfort is understandable, to a degree. “You don’t want your daughter looking like she’s way older than she is,” she said. “So you want her to treasure the time as a child for as long as she can.”

However, Bergeron said that Rob and other dads with makeup anxiety should think about how his wife and daughter use their beautification sessions. It might help them view the nail polish and lipstick application for what it is: harmless cross-generational girl-bonding. Here, at least, Ellen isn’t Mama June pushing Honey Boo Boo for the spotlight. She’s a mom sharing a fun activity with her daughter. “She’s connecting with her daughter in a way that she feels is special for her as a mom,” Bergeron said.


One day, New Jersey father of three Jerry Fernandez came home to learn his family now owned a gecko. His boys really wanted a dog and the lizard was the latest in a parade of substitutes. “We were starting to look a zoo,” he said. “Two birds, a turtle and now a lizard. All this to hold off on buying a dog.” Bergeron said it’s critical for families to talk about pets ahead of time. “It’s a big responsibility, and very often, obviously, it falls to the parents to take care of the pet because the child can kind of lose interest.” If you or your kids can’t reasonably care for a pet, then you shouldn’t get one.

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