Earlier this year, mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs gave his son Justin a $360,000 car for his 16th birthday. He also gave him $10,000 spending money and threw a celeb-studded party in New York City, as was documented on MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16.” Somehow the phrase “spoiled rotten” comes to mind, but we’ll let Diddy explain… “I think it’s appropriate to give my kids whatever I want to give my kids,” he told “Nightline’s” Martin Bashir during an interview last week. “I feel the way I raise my children, I don’t have to explain to you or anyone else, ’cause nobody knows the way I raise my children,” he added. Granted, Diddy is right, it’s none of our business. But perhaps there is a lesson in there somewhere for normal parents about how much we should be giving our children. As news of the gift initially circulated, parents in my circle questioned whether the producer turned mogul is setting his son up for failure. “What will the kid have to look forward to?” asked a colleague. And what, asked another, is the gesture saying to Justin, whom Diddy has admitted to not spending enough time with. On “Nightline” he said fatherhood is the one thing he’s the “least successful at,” though all of his six children are well taken care of. Though he didn’t go into specifics, Diddy assured Bashir his son can handle the consequences of the gift. “Nobody knows the lessons that I’ve taught my children to understand, if they are mentally ready for that,” he said, looking visibly annoyed. Let’s assume the lessons Diddy is referring to have to do with money and how to handle lots of it and still have the same work ethic and “hustle” he does, even when you wish for nothing financially. It’s easy for the rest of us to say (or think) we would never give our children that much, even if we were rich, out of fear that it might make them come to expect everything in life to come as easy. Given the money, would we stick to our rules? That’s a tricky one, especially since we live in a time when it’s become the norm for regular parents to throw extravagant birthday parties for their children. As an example look no further than MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16” series where everyday parents and Black celebs like L.A. Reid and Timbaland have gifted their teens with everything from Lamborghinis and trips to St. Tropez (Timbaland) to celeb-studded parties that cost upwards of $100,000 (Reid). As Bashir so famously pronounces each night on Nightline, perhaps this is a “sign of the times.” Coincidentally, according to new figures from the U.S. government, it costs middle class parents about $369,000 to raise a child from birth to age 17, which Diddy dropped in one night. Ouch. Talk about pressure on the parents of other 16-year-olds in Justin’s circle. In the end, we all try to do our best when it comes to raising our children, so Diddy’s annoyance at Bashir’s probing him about the gift is somewhat understandable. But the question for all of us is, given the chance, would we do it? What do you think?
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