Newsletters

Get Well+Being delivered to your inbox every Monday Morning.

Do the Ends Justify the Means When My Kid Is Involved? Ask Harry and Louise
Our husband-and-wife team advises a man who wants his young son to pose as a cancer patient to raise money for charity.
By Harry Jaffe, Louise Jaffe
Comments () | Published March 29, 2012

Dear Harry and Louise,

I’m hoping you can help resolve this fight between my wife and me. For the past several years, I have participated in triathlons to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I’ve lost too many friends and watched even more do battle with cancer, and I wanted to try to help. So I’ve joined a group that raises money for the society. In a few weeks, we are hosting a large bake sale hoping to raise as much money as we can. I asked my wife if she would have a problem with me shaving my four-year-old’s head and eyebrows. He’s very fair-skinned, and people may look at him and think that he’s undergoing chemotherapy. My argument is that all of the money we collect from the stunt will go to fight cancer. I’ve asked three different cancer survivors and patients how they feel about it, and they agree that if the money is going to fight cancer, it’s a good idea. My wife disagrees. Help!

Bald in Bowie

• • •

HARRY SAYS:

A stunt is a stunt. Your words, not mine. 

There's no doubt that raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is a worthy cause. I applaud your commitment to donating your time and money through the triathlons. But getting your son to pose as a cancer victim smacks of fakery, pure and simple. You're hoping a cute four-year-old with the dreaded disease will play on the hearts of potential donors and encourage them to open their wallets. But your son is healthy. Kind of a scam, really. Listen to your wife.

If you think having a child in cancer treatment will help raise funds at the bake sale, I'll bet you can find a volunteer at a local hospital. This kid will likely have a compelling tale, and the funds will flow.

But if someone donates big bucks on the basis of seeing your son posing as a cancer victim, then that person sees him a few months later in fine shape, he might feel deceived and want his money back. And he would deserve it.

Your wife is the voice of reason here.

• • •

LOUISE SAYS:

It's a bad idea. Your fair-skinned child depends on his caring parents to protect him from bad situations, such as being used as a prop in a stunt. Your little guy now has to depend on his mama to ensure Daddy doesn't make him look like Charlie Brown. When every young man in a college fraternity shaves his head in support of a member enduring a year of chemotherapy, it's solidarity. When a husband shaves his head when his wife begins to lose her hair, it's love. When a dad wants to shave his young child's head as part of a stunt, it's bad reality television.

Your son will learn so much by watching you devote yourself to causes that are important to you. He will come to expect that part of life involves devoting time and energy to helping others. Take him to the bake sale. Have him help make some of the treats. You are wonderful parents just by being the generous, altruistic folks you are. Including your son in these activities is a natural extension of your magnanimous life. Leave his hair alone and enjoy the camaraderie of the day.

And if you decide to shave your own head, please send us a picture.

• • •

HARRY SAYS:

Hmmmm, I was wondering how much money Louise could fetch for a school's annual auction if she showed up dressed as a French maid.

• • •

LOUISE SAYS:

This is a serious matter, so leave the French out of it.

Categories:

Advice
Subscribe to Washingtonian

Discuss this story

Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. The Washingtonian reserves the right to remove or edit content once posted.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 03/29/2012 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Blogs