Too many of us, though, feel obligated to purchase every item on said last. And, dear parents of the world, I am here to free you of that obligation, to tell you that “the list” is not gospel, it’s not law, and by no means is it a contract. The List needs to be viewed merely as a suggestion, kind of like the whole flossing-every-night-thing your dentist tries to lay on you every six months (crazy oral hygiene freak). And, here are seven reasons why:
1. Our Kids Have Too Much Stuff Already
Getting the giant new iPhone 6 just because it’s new (and the size of a small dictionary), or a toy that looked cool on a commercial during a Nickelodeon program isn’t always necessary. Electronic gadgets pile up as the old ones become “obsolete.” New toys and games are played with for 42 minutes, then stuck in a closet until cousins visit, which is precisely when your kid can’t share them. A UCLA study found that all that extra stuff is not only cluttering our homes, but keeps families apart.
2. It’s Time to Appreciate
When we give our kids whatever they want, it makes the last mass of items we gave them pase. They no longer appreciate what they had. And, that will be the fate of the items on “the list” in two months if you get them all. Hold up on the gifts and let your little one appreciate his Hot Wheels or your teen realize her not-so-new jeans have character.
3. They Are Not Entitled Just Because It’s December
We have become a culture of “Wait ‘til Christmas. I’ll get it for you then.” As a result, our children feel they are entitled to what they’ve asked for because they’ve waited all year for the holidays. I remember a time when kids thought they might get something from their list because they’d been good all year, not just because they survived to year’s end.
4. Spoiled Kids Smell Rotten
Okay, maybe not literally (although I know a few who emit a little funk), but figuratively they do. People don’t want to be around kids (or adults, for that matter) who know they can have whatever they ask for. It creates brats (hence the term “spoiled brat”). If you are fine with a spoiled brat running around your home, lovely, but for the sake of the rest of us, take it easy on the wish list.
5. Surprises Are a Good Thing
Take a look at your kid’s list. Allow it to soak in a bit and spark your creative juices. Then, decide what you want to get them. Maybe there are items on the list you would truly like to purchase, or some you were unaware of. But, also consider deviating from “the list.” What is it you know your little one would love, but he doesn’t yet know he’d love?
I remember a December in the 80’s finding a piece of paper my mom had written with the names of three Atari games on it. Immediately I tried to push the names out of my head, erase them from my memory. Why? Because I wanted to be surprised Christmas morning.
6. There’s No Need to Keep Up With the Mini-Joneses
Just because Bobby down the street has the new Lego Minecraft Set, doesn’t mean your kid needs it. Once you start showing your children they need to have what their friends have, you’ll have pulled a Dr. Frankenstein, creating little monsters that grow into adult monsters who spend more than they have in order to keep up appearances.
7. It’s Not What the Holidays Are About
If you teach your kid anything during the holidays be sure it’s not about “stuff.” It can be about babies and mangers, elves and deer, candles and menorahs, stars, family, love, faith, helping others, parades, lights, trees, but just not about “stuff.”
Look, I’m not recommending your kids shouldn’t make “the list.” Nor am I telling you not to get them anything from their list. But, be selective. Don’t spend because you feel obligated. And, don’t buy because you want to give them a moment of what appears to be happiness. Think of the long run when buying gifts from their lists. Use the holidays and your kid’s list as an opportunity to build character during this time of year, so they will grow up to be the adults (and parents) you can be proud of.
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