Customer Review

459 of 470 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Her children are lucky, September 26, 2003
This review is from: The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Paperback)
I am disturbed by some of the reviews that cruelly state that Mrs. Dacyczyn's children are being shortchanged--one reviewer called her childrearing philosophy child neglect and borderline abuse.
I think the Dacyczyn children are very blessed to be raised in a family where worldly values are put in perspective and the important things in life are stressed. My daughter and I are reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's books together, and while reading the Tightwad books, I was struck at how many parallels there are between the beloved classic books and the Dacyczyn family's values.
Children do not need fancy, expensive new clothes to develop properly. There is nothing wrong with used clothes, in the first place. Secondly, Mrs. Dacyczyn makes clear her clothing philosophy in a little article about how she spoke with all her children about what they wanted to wear on the first day of school. She spent a good deal of time planning this with them, and actually made a special item (a vest, I think) so they would feel special. She didn't have to throw money at them to show that she loved them. She spent time talking and listening.
As far as the bath issue... hello, children do NOT need a bath every single day. Where did that myth come from, anyway? It does not jeapordize their health if they don't get scrubbed every night. Most of the people I know give their kids a bath "as-needed" during the week, and then on Saturday night so they're extra-clean for church on Sunday morning. Baths are more frequent in the summer, when they're outside getting dirty, and less in the winter (sometimes only once a week in our house) when they spend all their time inside, and I'd rather not send them to bed with wet hair. It's not so much a matter of frugality as it is common sense.
And the reviewers who made snide remarks about nutrition... holy cow. These kids get organic, garden-fresh produce all summer, and home-canned and frozen produce (also organic, and no preservatives) the rest of the year. Their consumption of ready-made snacks (laden with fat, sugar and preservatives) is sensibly controlled. They get balanced meals from all the food groups (Mrs. Dacyczyn lists a week of her family's menus for us to look at).
I would think that with all the problems that have come to light on child obesity this last decade, that people would understand that we need to pay attention to our children's nutrition. Keeping potato chips as a special treat (and telling the kids that, if they want something not on the family menu, they have to purchase it themselves) is not abusive. It is tender care and regard for a child's health.
As far as showing love: her descriptions of the children's birthday parties are fantastic. The pirate ship birthday theme is wonderful, and her set-up in the yard of an actual ship play-area was awesome. How many parents take their kids to a party store, let them choose the newest popular cartoon character and get party hats, paper goods and "favors" in that theme (and then go buy a tasteless cake with vegetable shortening/powdered sugar frosting at the grocery store)? Is that more loving than what the Dacyczyn family does?
And I would like to point out the snobbery of the reviewers who turn up their noses at dumpster diving. In this throw-away society, it is shocking what people toss in the trash. When my husband and I still lived in our apartment complex, he would watch the dumpster at the end of the month, when people were moving out. One girl threw away boxes of new clothes -tags still on!- and even a mason jar full to the top of coins. Too much trouble to take it to the bank, I suppose. I still wear her pajamas and shorts, use her hand-formed iron wok, and sharpen my knives on her very expensive sharpening stone. We also still use the lovely, unique folding wooden chairs our neighbors threw away.
Someone bragged that her house is not full of other people's castoffs. I am willing to bet that a house full of cast-off antiques and high-quality yard sale finds is more interesting and beautiful than one furnished by walking into Wal-Mart (or even Pottery Barn) and simply running up a credit card.
There are also too many sniffing comments about having six children. Since when is it anyone's business how many children a family has? Particularly since the Dacyczyn family isn't asking anyone for a handout. Large families are full of joy and love and they get too many unsolicited comments. I know someone with a large family who is often told in public by complete strangers, "I'm glad they aren't mine!" To which she threatens to one day respond, "They're glad they aren't yours, too."
Mrs. Dacyczyn never says to her children, "You're not worth a new dress or a new book." She shows how much she loves them by giving them the important things of life. She is also preparing them for adulthood in the best way: showing them the difference between wants and needs. They will know that money is not what makes us happy, and that buying "things" is not as important as spending time with people. They will be well-adjusted, happy adults.
It made me sad to read the mean reviews. If you want to say the book didn't help you save money, fine. But let's not make ourselves feel superior by making cruel comments about this family.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 8, 2009 8:20:41 AM PST
Jamie D. says:
I agree with everything here. I had to laugh when I read the negative review that was concerned about the health and nutrition that the Dacyczyn family gets. I happen to know for a fact that over the years, not a single one of them has ever broken a bone, developed allergies, developed asthma, or became remotely overweight, and rarely do any get sick. What does that say about their health and "poor nutrition" from frugal foods?

Posted on Jan 26, 2009 2:39:30 PM PST
Jaime says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2009 6:33:19 PM PST
M. Kennedy says:
Bathe a child only once a week? Oh, ugh . . . I'm twitching here.

Posted on Mar 12, 2009 10:09:08 AM PDT
CritWitt says:
I whole-heartedly agree with C. Walker's comments--I couldn't have said it better.
As for the whole bath thing, for crying out loud people! Give it a rest! You don't have to give your kid a bath every day! Only in the past few decades have people been bathing so frequently--and that's pretty much only in America! And you know what? Cleaning too much actually leads to more allergies and sickness!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2009 12:42:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2009 12:42:24 PM PDT
R. Holt says:
I'm still waiting for a copy of this book to come up at the library but I have to say that people who can afford to turn their nose up at "extreme" frugality aren't likely to be the intended audience for this book. I grew up in a large, poor family and we had very little money for the first ten years of my life and I never knew we were poor. I loved hand me downs because I knew some day things like the plaid skirt of my sister's that I love so much would eventually be mine. As for dumpster diving, it's practically a national past-time for some poor college students. Around where I live, putting anything useful out by the apartment dumpster is akin to recycling since it'll usually disappear before trash day. As for the "hygiene" issue: Daily bathing is a cultural phenomenon, not a matter of hygiene. We've over sanitized ourselves to the point where our immune systems can't cope with the basic germs other culture's bodies learned to fight off a hundred or more years ago. There are plenty of modern cultures where bathing is done only once a week and you don't see them droping like flies.

Posted on Apr 23, 2009 4:39:52 PM PDT
S. Johnson says:
Excellent review & keen insight into negative reviewers - thank you!

Posted on May 25, 2009 12:08:49 PM PDT
jbkmd says:
thanx for the great and g-dly review!

Posted on Jun 15, 2009 8:05:20 PM PDT
Here here! Well spoken. The ideas in this book are timeless. Great review

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 25, 2010 3:15:18 PM PDT
S. Loomans says:
Interestingly, when I took my children (who have eczema) to a dermatologist, he told me not to bathe my children more than once a week. Apparently, bathing them too often is bad for their skin--not just my kids, but in general.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2010 8:47:13 PM PST
Sam says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]
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C. Walker

Location: Minneapolis, MN

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