Parents today are burdened with so many responsibilities when it comes to raising kids: providing them with a good education, making sure they eat healthy food, obtaining the right ADHD medication, being vigilant to the myriad threats posed by the internet. But none of the above is nearly as important as paying thousands of dollars to ensure your son or daughter's life isn't ruined before it's even begun by the horrific handicap of crooked teeth. Yes, apparently people would rather starve on the streets than see their precious offspring go without braces.
As the Times reports, private schools, tennis lessons, eating out, all are being dropped from families' budgets in favor of straight teeth, and orthodontists are finding that even people who are filing for bankruptcy are still paying for braces.
"Could we have avoided doing this? Probably," says one mother about her decision to pay for her son's braces despite scrimping on everything else. And by probably, she clearly means over my dead body: "I think having well-aligned teeth—this is going to sound shallow—but it sends a message to people."
Indeed. "If you go into a job with teeth out of a novelty store," says orthodontist Dr. Benjamin Burris, "people aren't supposed to discriminate. But people do." So if you're a strapped-for-cash parent, just remember that braces aren't just a question of aesthetics, they're all that stands between your teen and a future as a social outcast who can't get a job. You don't want that on your conscience, do you?