The Holidays and Gift Giving
The holidays are almost upon us and as usual there is a lot of discussion about gifts. A big dilemma for me when my children were little was what to get and how much to get. The lists they gave me seemed endless and constantly changing, depending on the current toy being advertised on television. Just when I thought I had a plan, the number one gift suddenly plummeted to number twenty and something new was number one. I stayed frustrated!
Christmas can be a time of blessing our children or spoiling them. Sometimes it’s hard to draw the line where blessing becomes spoiling. However, many adults would agree that children today are often growing up with a sense of entitlement rather than a sense of empowerment and responsibility. Here are some messages that dis-empower kids:
- the way to demonstrate love is through things
- the way to make up for parenting neglect is through things
- the way to manipulate children into behaving is through providing things
- the path to happiness is accumulating things
The Five Love Languages
Making sure that gifts don’t become the focus of Christmas is important. Recognizing our children’s personality or temperament is helpful. As parents we connect best with our children when we recognize the five love languages as identified by Gary D. Chapman and speak to our children in those languages. The five love languages are:
- Words of affirmation–Could you write your child a Christmas letter that expresses gratitude for all their unique qualities?
- Acts of service–Could you share a service project together? Visit a nursing home and sing carols. Support a homeless shelter and serve a meal together.
- Receiving gifts–We all focus on this one at Christmas. One suggestion for managing this aspect of Christmas is to buy your child three gifts: one gift that the child wants, one that they need and one that is a surprise. I think this suggestion is fabulous and it covers all the possibilities. It has an element of fun, an element of practicality or educational value while giving the child a choice that involves prioritizing of items.
- Quality time–Could your gift be spending some special time enjoying an activity together? This could be attending a holiday event or it could be planning for some special time together after the holiday season. Think about an activity that will be enjoyable while improving the relationship through interaction.
- Physical touch–Hopefully this is a part of every day but a gift could focus on a relaxing back rub before bed or an evening of snuggling in front of a movie as a family.
Teaching our children to become other-focused rather than self-centered and me-focused is an important step in making sure that they grow up to be caring compassionate adults. There are many ways to encourage this in our children, but Christmas is a season especially rich in opportunities.
Does your family have a tradition of gift giving?
How do you recognize and address the five love languages in your family?
Wyatt Learns about Giving
It’s almost Christmas and Wyatt the Wonder Dog is wondering how long he will have to wait until the big day and what gifts he will get. His mother however, has a more important question, “What will you give for Christmas?” Join Wyatt as he learns a valuable lesson about how anyone can be generous and giving at Christmas and all through the year.