A recent report by The Today Show involved interviews with 6000 moms regarding to what extent they spoiled their own children during the holiday gift giving season. The numbers and responses were shocking, as the majority of those interviewed admitting to spending high amounts on children, with $275 per child being the average, with some respondents admitting to shelling out upwards of $500 per child during the holidays. These figures are quite high, and especially when taken in the context of a down economy and mothers who admittedly overspend and financially cannot always afford to do so. One of the lingering issues revolves around guilt and a parents desire to overindulge their children come Christmas morning to make the child feel special and loved.
This issue is one which can compound over time, as children who are accustomed to receiving large amounts of gifts and big ticket items each and every Christmas find it hard when parents have to scale back due to financial troubles or to simply get the child out of the habit of expecting so much. The excess gift giving phenomenon crosses all cultural boundaries, and mothers from all walks of life admit to being overindulgent during the holiday season.
To help correct and prevent this type of lavish gift giving from getting further out of control, it is crucial that children be talked to during the non-holiday season about the needs and wants of both themselves and others. In fact, the gifts which end up on a shelf, in a basement or tossed to the side in the mere weeks following Christmas can be used as a talking point to have an open and honest discussion with children about excess and why receiving too many gifts is actually not a good thing. This year I had the kids make a “Top 5” list of things they would really like to receive. They looked at me with a weird face and said “that’s it”? Once they really got to thinking and get their priorities written down my oldest could not even come up with five things she really wanted. Many times I think it is just the concept of the toy that they really like but when you point out to them that they already have a toy just like it many times they will just sent it off the list.
Mothers, fathers and other caregivers can use the notion of scaling back during the holidays by getting kids involved in charity. One option is to have kids gather unused toys for donation prior to making a list for Santa and for every toy donated, one item can go one the gift wish list. An alternate way to help teach children that they do not need as many material items is to have kids use their own money to buy toys and gifts for the needy and have children volunteer at shelters, hospitals and missions to help show how others in true need are thankful for what they do have. What are your thoughts on this subject? Are you cutting back this Christmas?