Who wouldn't argue that children come first? But some parents are getting this twisted.

More than 50 percent of parents have gone into unnecessary debt to buy their kids nonessential items or experiences, according to a new online survey of 1,000 people by CreditKarma.com. More than 1 in 4 said they overspent because they were either afraid of being judged by friends or other parents, or because they didn’t want their kids judged by their peers.

Come on, mom and dad.

Be realistic: “Focus more on your children’s needs rather than their wants.  Avoid getting caught up in what others are doing,” says Leslie Tayne, a debt resolution attorney with the Tayne Law Group in Melville.

Get over guilt: Have an open and honest discussion with your kids about what you can afford.  “You may not be able to swoop them off to some extravagant place or buy them the latest smartphone, but you can still do fun, affordable things together,” says Tayne.

Stay strong: Remember you are also an educator and leader. “Years from now your child will remember how you always talked about buying a second-hand car because it is more cost-efficient than buying a new one.  They will forget the expensive items you purchased for them. Or worse, that is what they remember and will duplicate the behavior,” says Lou Cannataro, partner at Cannataro Park Avenue Financial in Manhattan.

He adds: “Don’t sacrifice long-term financial stability for short-term success in giving your child nonessential items and experiences now. Your child’s appreciation will diminish quickly for nonessential purchases for they were just that — nonessential.”

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