By Tara Weng, GalTime.com
Thank you so much!
I have extremely vivid memories of waking up on Christmas morning and running into a bounty of presents from Santa. It takes an amazing sense of restraint and balance for me as a parent of two kids to not crowd the tree with gifts.
I have a slight advantage, however--both of my kids were born in December, so I have to temper my Santa-esque enthusiasm with the awareness that the kids must recognize their birthdays as "special" too.
Still, it is a struggle of mine. I'm not independently wealthy nor do I have the innate desire for my kids to think of Christimas as the "commercial boom of the year." It has become more apparent to me as they grow older that they appreciate the spirit of giving just as much, if not more, than the spirit of receiving.
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Dr. Roland Trujillo, counselor and author of Santa's Take on Parenting , says we, as parents, should be the model to kids when it comes to the spirit of giving and wanting. "Parents should be the strongest influence and the example which their kids will naturally imitate and follow. If peers are too much influence, the issue is not the gifts but why the parents are less influence than other kids and advertisers," he explains.
Trujillo acknowledges that parents tend to side toward the way of over-abundance when it comes to buying holidays gifts for their kids but reminds us that while generous (in some respects) it can teach a bad lesson in combination with outside influences. "It might be because the parents themselves are giving too much (perhaps as a compensation for some guilt.) They just need to cut back a little. The other reason why wanting things can go overboard is the example of other kids or the influence of other kids plus advertising."
Trujillo offers an interesting tip to parents: try presenting the giving/receiving aspect(s) of Christmas as a "game" of sorts. He says we might just need to suggest a scenario to our kids of what we want for Christmas and present alternatives to them. "For example, dad can suddenly announce that he wants an airplane for Christmas and it only costs a million dollars. The kids will roll their eyes and then try to dissuade dad. He will pretend that he still wants it and so on. Finally, the kids convince dad that he should ask for something else and explain to him that an airplane is too expensive and there's no place to put it," he says.
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Any way I slice it, my kids are fortunate and are not wanting for much at all. It has become my mission to teach them the importance of giving to those less fortunate, even if it means packing a box of toys to send to a local shelter or explaining why and what something costs, so they understand the repercussion(s) of their requests.
So far, so good. Last year my daughter desperately wanted a video console for Christmas but didn't receive it. She never complained on Christmas morning or afterwards. Instead she saved up allowances, birthday money and feverishly collected spare change to purchase it herself. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but I think she appreciated it all the more because she saved her money and bought it.
What is your best tip for keeping the gift giving under control?
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