Unexpected Teachable Moments: Buying Winter Coats

Photography by Ali Martell

Every fall, I buy a new winter coat for each of my children. The coats have to be warm enough to be worn during outdoor recess, even in February. They have to be made from quality material; I don’t really want to be replacing winter coats in February. And they have to be reasonably priced. These are the parameters I set out, and other than that, the children get to choose which colour they want. My two youngest children are pretty easy and I was able to snatch up two lovely winter coats at great outerwear sales from retailers I know and trust. My oldest daughter, however, was a bit more difficult.

The coat she decided that she needed to have was more expensive than I was willing to spend on a coat. I immediately said no, but, of course, by that point, she had decided that this coat was the one that she had to have. My first instinct was to simply tell her that if she wasn’t going to buy a coat, she was going to have a very, very cold winter. But, obviously, as a parent, I know that sending her to school without a proper winter coat is not a reasonable solution to this problem. So I asked her to build me a case; to tell me why I should buy this coat for her.

My 10-year-old daughter did exactly that—she built a case for herself, and ended up with the coat of her choice. She showed me that the online store was having a 40-percent-off sale. She figured out exactly what the total cost would be once we included the discount, the tax and the shipping (math!). She knew how much money I spent on her brother’s and her sister’s coats and then she offered me the difference in tooth fairy and allowance money.

As a parent, I was happy to have been handed this incredible teaching moment—and also happy that my child will be warm this winter.

Do you have any great unexpected teachable moments? We’d love to hear them!

—Ali, senior associate editor of CF.ca

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