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Add “Going To College” To The Growing List of Greedy Reasons To Host A Shower

My husband and I have no kids, but love our nieces and nephews very much. We take them to the movies and try to spend time with all of them. This past September, my niece left for her first year of college in a neighboring state. In March, we gave her a generous cash birthday gift followed by another cash gift for an award she received. In June, we gave her a very big cash gift for her high school graduation. All told, this child received $750 from us in a 4 month period. In August, I received an email from her mother, my SIL, saying that she’d run out of time and had wanted to have a ‘shower’ for her daughter’s’ needs for her college dorm room. Since she’d run out of time, she asked myself and several other relatives if we wanted to purchase items from her (she’d already bought everything else my niece would need). I was so stunned at this shocking gift grab. After we’d been so incredibly generous, she thought it appropriate to tap us for more. What really blew my mind was that the two grandmothers agreed to do that and “bought” some items off of her. I suppose grandparents are a bit more tolerant for things like this but I wish they’d declined. Am I completely out of touch? Are we really now holding “showers” for kids going away to college after they’ve received cash gifts for graduation? 0804-14

This is a new one for Ehell but I’m sure opportunistic, greedy people with no sense of personal obligations will jump on it as a great idea to fund the new decor of a dorm room and it will become ubiquitous.   I am with you….it’s a shocking admission by your sister-in-law that she and her husband lack the financial resources to properly outfit their daughter for college and must go begging amongst family.   I would be ashamed to mooch off the family that way but obviously there are people in this world who differ in their opinions and have no problems looking to others to supplement their lifestyle choices.   Can’t afford to provide for your child’s domicile while in college?   Choose a more affordable college or live at home while attending a local college.


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  • MichelleP August 6, 2014, 11:18 am

    Another thing-my husband and I got married and moved in together right after I graduated. I made minimum wage at McDonald’s and he was a very low rank in the army and didn’t have a pot to tinkle in. We took what we had and combined it, worked, saved, and bought what we needed ourselves.

    I’m going to college now while working and as a single mom, hey maybe I should ask my family and friends to throw me a shower! 🙂

  • Cat August 6, 2014, 5:25 pm

    I would think you have done enough. Send her your best good wishes for academic success at college and leave it at that.

  • Zairrin August 6, 2014, 5:49 pm

    My family does “college showers”, in that the parents buy their kid whatever they need, and relatives watch the kid open it at a family party. Unless they want to, relatives don’t buy anything. (And, of course, everyone who does buy presents is swiftly and effusively thanked!)

  • Barbarian August 6, 2014, 8:29 pm

    OP should opt out of this request or it will only encourage the mom to come up with more gimme-pig ideas as the years go by. Hopefully the rest of the family will ignore this gift grab too.

    Recently I had a thinly disguised “go fund me” e-mail from a distant acquaintance who announced she was selling an MLM product to help pay for her child’s room and board at an out of town college. I was not impressed because said child had spent the summer in Europe as an exchange student when she could have had a summer job in the US to help pay for out of town school.

  • Mojo August 7, 2014, 4:04 am

    Have times changed so much that a student actually needs all this expensive stuff?

    When I went to university, towels and sheets were off my own bed at home, I got 4 mugs, 2 plates and a handful of cutlery from a charity shop, and kettle from Argos for £4.99. That’s it, that’s all I needed in halls.

    What’s changed except expectation and entitlement?

    • MM August 7, 2014, 3:18 pm

      for one thing, most US dorm beds are twin XL which is rare outside the dorm.

    • Anonymous August 7, 2014, 4:44 pm

      Well, cell phones have replaced rez-provided land lines, and computer labs are much smaller, fewer, and further between, because it’s assumed that everyone has their own laptop, and in this case, the young woman heading off to university didn’t ask for a “college shower,” and might not even know that her mother is begging for money to reimburse her for all the things she bought her daughter for college/university. For all we know, the mother just told her daughter, “Today, we’re going shopping for your school things,” and they went, came home, and as far as the daughter was concerned, that was that. Meanwhile, the mother is sending out a mass money-grabbing e-mail to family members and friends, while the daughter is innocently packing, registering for classes, Facebook-messaging/video-chatting with her new roommate, and doing all the other things that people do in the summer before heading off to college or university. Also, we don’t know what happened on that shopping trip. Maybe it was the daughter saying, “Oh, I don’t need new bedding; we have spare sets in the linen closet,” and “Hanging Christmas lights indoors when it’s not Christmas time is silly,” and the mother pushing her to get brand-new, matching everything, and tons of decorative junk, so she’ll have a tricked-out room as a supposed “ticket to popularity,” or some asinine thing like that. Maybe Mother loves shopping, maybe she wasn’t popular in university and wants her daughter to be popular (and feels like the quickest way there is by having the coolest room), or maybe she didn’t go at all, and has no idea how tiny those rooms are. My point is, this can happen–I was that kid growing up. I hated shopping, I hated crowds, and I hated having to make decisions in busy places where I felt overwhelmed, and there were many times when I would have happily left the store, while my mother was insisting that I needed new clothes/bedding/whatever. As an adult shopping alone, there are many times when I *do* leave stores with just the bare necessities (or nothing at all), because I can’t handle any more shopping. Anyway, there’s nothing here to say that the daughter is spoiled or entitled. I’d put this all on the mother. It’s possible to have nice things, and not be rude or spoiled, and it’s also possible to be rude and spoiled with few material possessions. I don’t really like the “If you have X, you’re spoiled” mentality, because it’s narrow-minded and unfair.

    • Cami August 8, 2014, 12:10 pm

      Falls under the heading of “Your experience is not universal.”

      When my daughter went off to college last fall (transferring from living at home to an away college), she was assigned a “dorm/apartment”. The apartment came with a shared bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living room. Included were: twin xl bed, 1 dresser, 1 desk, 1 chair in the bedroom and 2 couches in the living room. The kitchen had cabinets, sink, refrigerator and stove. That was it. Dishes, pots, pans, utensils? You had to provide them. Table and chairs? You had to provide them? Dishrack/dryer rack, kitchen towels, etc etc etc? Garbage cans? Shower curtain? Vacuum cleaner, broom, dust pan, step stool (and yes, you had to have a step stool because the shelves in your closet and in the kitchen cabinets were too high for the average female to reach)? You had to provide them. Basically, aside from the bedroom furniture and couches, she had to provide everything. Again, she was assigned this living situation and had no choice but to accept it. It was akin to equipping your first apartment. Even back in the “good old days” before kids got so filled with expectation and entitlement, when I set up my first apartment, I needed more than 2 plates.

      Oh and we looked at kitchen stuff at a local thrift store and guess what? It was cheaper to buy new at a discount department store. And the idea of getting those items for the money you quoted? Yeah, not gonna happen any more, at least around here.

      Also, today’s students often must have their own laptops and smart phones — classes actually REQUIRE them. Then there are the printers and other auxiliary devices. Good luck trying to use the campus computer lab — their hours are limited and equipment is small in number.

  • lnelson1218 August 7, 2014, 8:05 am

    It really is pretty amazing.

    For my undergrad, I never lived in a dorm and due family moves, things were constantly getting replaced. Several times, I was fortunate enough to have someone in my life able to donate things to me. One coworker after a child left room turned the kid’s bedroom into an office space and gave the bed to me. But that was dumb luck.

    I did expect some financial support from my father but that was court order during the divorce. Beyond, I knew that I was pretty much on my own and if I did get anything extra, I felt lucky and grateful.

  • rachel August 7, 2014, 9:06 am

    Don’t have kids if you’re going to mismanage your money and make their lives hell. I am disgusted by all the lazy and entitled parents in these replies. Life is not a gift for most people, there’s no reason for children to be grateful unless you help them succeed.

    • Angel August 8, 2014, 4:23 pm

      Do you mean that children should be entitled to their parents’ money?? I beg to differ on that one. Sure I want to help my kids succeed but there are limits to what any parent should be expected to do. That being said I do think parents should at least attempt to supply the necessities for their kids–but there may be times when the kid needs to do it on their own. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad parent–just a parent who has their own limitations on what they can do for their kid. The solution is not to beg friends and family members for money–the solution is help the kid take out loans, or help him get a job.

      • Enna August 10, 2014, 10:02 am

        Rachel and Angel, you make very good points: it is important that a parent supports their child/ren to the best of their abitities whist at the same time not spoiling them rotton. At the same time teenage/adult children need to understand that they have to live within their means. I think it is shocking that the mother in this story is expecting others to pay.

  • Library Diva August 7, 2014, 10:35 am

    People need to resist the college-industrial complex. All that crap they sell at Target really isn’t necessary. The dorm environment is like no other. It’s more open, there are more different kinds of people all around you, and you spend more time with others in your living space. Stuff gets broken or walks off really easily, and at the end of the year, you have to pack it all up and take it home or put it in storage. You’re better off getting the kinds of decorations you don’t spend a lot of money on. The only things I’d term as essentials are linens, a fan, a container for your laundry, and something to heat up water in. No fuzzy pink pillows. No iridescent trash cans. No expensive wall decor. No massive lamps with five different multicolored shades.

    And yeah, I’m shocked at how shameless the OP’s relative is. The mere concept of a “dorm shower” is bad enough, but this isn’t even a real “shower” where the guest of honor puts together a registry, people get to choose a gift and wrap it up, and then the group gathers together to socialize, snack, see what everyone else bought, and celebrate this moment in the recipient’s life. This is just a cash grab, pure and simple.

    • Anonymous August 8, 2014, 9:47 am

      Yes, people do need to resist the siren song of the pink fuzzy pillows and the candy-coloured lamps, but between the “ZOMG, I’m leaving home!!!!” mentality, and the fact that advertisers tend to shove these things down people’s throats fairly aggressively, it’s difficult, especially for a young person who’s barely out of high school, where dressing in trendy brand-name clothing was, at least in some cases, a major indicator of coolness. So, imagine being eighteen years old, after spending so many of your formative years trying to “keep up with the Joneses” when it comes to fashion, and now you’re going to a new place, where, in your mind, people will be judging you from day one. The only difference is, in this place, you don’t just need to dress the part, your new room does too. Or, suppose you know better, but your mother doesn’t, and she’s pushing the issue, so you play along to get her off your back, because you have packing to do, classes to enroll in online before they’re full, last-minute forms to send in, old friends to meet up with one last time before September, and a new roommate who you want to co-ordinate with, so you don’t end up with unnecessary duplicates of large items. I don’t think it’s really fair for society to put young people in this position, by telling them that they “need” fuzzy pillows and shag rugs, strings of light-up butterflies, beaded curtains, and all manner of other junk for their dorm rooms, and then calling them “spoiled and entitled” if they believe it, or even if they simply accept these things if they’re given to them.

      • JackieJormpJomp August 8, 2014, 5:51 pm

        “So, imagine being eighteen years old, after spending so many of your formative years trying to “keep up with the Joneses” when it comes to fashion, and now you’re going to a new place, where, in your mind, people will be judging you from day one. The only difference is, in this place, you don’t just need to dress the part, your new room does too.”

        I’d argue that a parents’ job is not to get all the stuff the kid wants, but to reinforce that they absolutely do not need a bunch of stuff.

        • Anonymous August 9, 2014, 6:36 am

          The parents’ job is somewhere in the middle. It’s the parents’ job to say, “The toaster is a good idea, but the light-up peace sign is just going to take up space and gather dust.” Also, sometimes the parent is the one pushing the “buy more stuff” agenda, when the kid wants no part of it. Of course having a “college/university shower” is rude, and of course it’s even ruder when it’s just a cash grab to reimburse Mother for what she’s already bought (because that takes all the fun out of independently picking gifts for Daughter), but I wouldn’t call a young person “spoiled and entitled” for being bombarded with glossy flyers full of pink fuzzy pillows and whatnot, labelled as “dorm essentials,” and then walking into the store and thinking, “Hmm, I think I could use a pink fuzzy pillow for school. Everyone else is going to have one.” Yes, parents can set their kids straight, but it works better if said parents have been through the experience themselves and have seen how small those rooms are. Either way, though, I don’t see a problem with doing *something* to create a “home away from home” in the residence–I mean, if a cool bedspread (which might have to be bought anyway, to fit on a Twin XL bed), and some posters or something on the walls, will make the space more “personal,” and stave off homesickness, I don’t see a problem with it. There’s definitely a middle ground between “Bare essentials,” and “Looks like Pottery Barn Teen threw up in here.” Oh, before I forget, there’s no point in buying posters in advance. Most colleges and universities hold a poster sale early on in the academic year, and it’s easier to do it that way than to try to pack posters without crushing them.

  • Calli Arcale August 7, 2014, 3:33 pm

    A shower for going to college? I always thought that was supposed to be the point of any gifts given at the high school graduation party, where the traditional gift is cash. Wow.

  • Laurita August 10, 2014, 6:56 am

    Ugh! I hate the idea of showers in general, but this is just gross. Doesn’t anyone believe in planning anymore?
    When I was in my last year or so of high school and knew I would be leaving home for college, I started a hope chest of sorts and started collecting the things I would need. A lot of things I got from family members were hand me down household items they no longer needed. Instead of throwing them out, they’d send them my way. Win-win! I also got practical school gifts for holidays and occasions. By the time I left home I was well outfitted for college life with very little cost to anyone, just with a little planning and practicality.

    • penguin tummy August 17, 2014, 3:17 pm

      What a great idea! Over the course of the year family and friends may often get rid of this or that, adding up to a whole dorm room for you. Others should be so organised