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This Eid, have you been giving your child the ‘first class’ treatment?

Eve Dugdale

Published: Updated:

Having just celebrated Eid, many families across the Middle East will be dreading their next credit card bill.

After all, for the majority of people it’s a time to spend money and buy lots of gifts for the children.

But is splashing the cash on your offspring necessarily a good thing?

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay sparked a debate just recently after his comments about why he and his wife fly first class while his children sit in economy.

The British chef, who owns the popular Dubai restaurant Bread Street Kitchen and is worth an estimated $38,000,000, insists that his children “haven’t worked anywhere near hard enough” to afford the price of first class tickets.

Talking about “keeping it real with the kids”, Ramsay said he wasn’t embarrassed at all by his decision and said he’s actually trying to do the right thing by his children – Megan, 18, Jack and Holly, 17 and 15-year-old Matilda - by not allowing them to grow up with a sense of entitlement.

Explaining how their privileged childhood is very different to the tough life he had as a youngster, the TV personality said his children are grateful that they’re not spoilt.

In an expletive-filled rant Ramsay talked about how he didn’t fly on a plane until he was 19 years old and, even when he sat on the plane cramped for eight hours with terrible food, he was just happy to be on a plane.

But if you’re going to fly first class, surely you want your children there too, says dad of three Chris Doyle. After all, don’t we all want a better life for our children than the lives we had?

He says: “I think what he’s done is an empty gesture. All he has done is say that he’s worth first class and they’re not. Plus I think he just wanted a break from them for the flight and the ‘just teaching them a lesson’ line is just an excuse.

“When I was growing up, we had nothing. I was always in cheap trainers and second-hand clothes. When I became a parent, I decided that my kids would have decent pumps and clothes that were fashionable. It’s hard enough being a kid without other kids ripping into you for looking like something out of the seventies.”

Earlier this year Ramsay revealed that his children do housework and have their own jobs. Mum of four Hina says these are better ways for children to “keep it real” and learn about paying their way in life.

“I do understand that he doesn’t want to spoil his children but he should stay with them in economy rather than leaving them there and going to first. I would never leave my children in a different section of the plane just to teach them they need to work hard. You can do that in so many other ways – teaching them why they need to do homework, giving them a share of the chores in the home,” she says.

However, mum-of-two, Elizabeth Donevan believes she would do the same as Ramsay if she had his wealth. She believes his actions are just an extension of not buying your toddler every toy they ask for even though you have the money to do so.

She says: “I’d want my kids to know that nice things cost money and they don’t get handed to you on a plate, they need to be worked for. It’s difficult to apply all that to Ramsay because I don’t know how hard he’s worked to become so wealthy and some people wouldn’t aspire to flying first class so it’s not a treat. But just like I don’t buy my son the Paw Patrol toys he says he needs and pulls off the shelf in the shops, even though I could, technically, afford them, I’ll talk to him about going home and looking in his money box and if there’s not enough in there he has to wait. I think this is an opportunity to remind kids that they’re not set up for life because their dad is loaded.”