DEAR AMY: We would like to send our two children to private schools because we believe these are more academically challenging, butI worry about the "snob factor." The young people dress expensively, and I even know many parents who condone drinking, pot smoking and partying. I was surprised to see how many parents also condoned their children's cliques and "label-conscious" clothing. I am grateful that we can provide a good education, but I also don't want our kids to believe that an elitist mentality is acceptable. How do we curb the "snob factor"?
--Not a Snob
DEAR NOT: Michael Thompson, author of "The Pressured Child: Freeing Our Kids From Performance Overdrive and Helping Them Find Success in School and Life" (2005, Ballantine Books), says, "I trust independent schools to offer children a first-rate education by providing demanding academics, teachers with high morale, enriched extracurriculars and small class size. The downside of such schools is that the children in them may take privilege for granted.
"You can send your child to an independent school and keep him or her from becoming a snob by insisting on good family values, by asking your child to work and do chores, and by asking him or her to contribute to their community through service." The message you should convey is, "Your character is the most important part of who you are."
DEAR AMY: "Concerned Parents" were worried about their 5-year-old receiving inappropriate gifts at her birthday party. Here's a way to "control" the gifts and also do good. When our daughter wanted parties with her friends, we would have her pick a charity such as the local homeless shelter and then request unwrapped gifts that were on the charity's "gift" lists. This helped us avoid our daughter receiving too many gifts and helped her learn that others have needs that she could help fulfill.