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My Kid Turned Down an American Girl Doll

Photograph by Getty Images

A few months ago, my 8-year-old came home one day after school proclaiming she wanted an American Girl doll. My husband and I weren’t particularly surprised. Until now, we hadn’t talked much about it or expressed our opinion one way or the other. But we figured our daughter would eventually want to jump on the bandwagon like her school friends. Most girls in her class have at least one doll and lots of clothes and accessories to go with it.

As someone with a marketing and communications background, I admire American Girl’s success and what it stands for. The dolls reflect different ethnicities. Many are from different periods in American history.

I like that each doll comes with a book told from the perspective of the girl about that time in history. (The company also sells contemporary dolls and their accompanying stories). The books cover topics like child labor, child abuse, poverty, racism, slavery, animal abuse and war in a way that’s appropriate for a young audience.

What I’m not crazy about is the price tag.

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Most dolls bought at the store or through the catalog are $115 plus tax. Combine that with clothing and accessories, and the tally starts rising exponentially. There are also all the American Girl “experiences,” including a doll hair salon, photo and dining. Add in a magazine subscription, an American Girl movie or two and a birthday party. Before you know it, an entire college fund could disappear.

We’re proud of our girl for reaching that decision on her own.

That said, we didn’t want to be “those parents” who told their daughter she couldn’t have an American Girl doll because it cost too much. So, we laid out parameters instead. We would buy the doll for my daughter’s 9th birthday. I was even willing to dine at the store, go to the doll salon, get a photo taken and use a personal shopper for the full experience.

But after that day, all the other things — clothes, accessories, magazine subscription etc. — would have to be received as gifts or come from her own money.

Our daughter changed her mind.

If she changes her mind and decides she wants an American Girl doll for her birthday after all (it’s coming up at the end of February), that’s OK too.

She decided she didn’t want an American Girl doll after all. She said she would probably outgrow it, and it wouldn’t be worth the money spent. We’re proud of our girl for reaching that decision on her own.

RELATED: My Kids are Obsessed with Money!

If she changes her mind and decides she wants an American Girl doll for her birthday after all (it’s coming up at the end of February), that’s OK too. Regardless of her decision, American Girl became a teachable lesson to our 8-year-old about spending hard-earned money on things you value, appreciate and can give you satisfaction over the long term.

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