The holidays have arrived and now it is time for gift giving 2012. Before you ‘shop ‘til you drop’, here are some suggestions that may be helpful along the way. Happy shopping and giving,
joe rich, msw, rsw
Teach the Importance of Giving to Others
As we begin to prepare for the holidays we are often struck by how much we have, and ask ourselves are we too “spoiled”? Should we be teaching our children more about charity? Reaching out to the needy? Caring for others less fortunate? This is likely a healthy series of thoughts. However, keep in mind that if you have not spent the year talking about ”how fortunate we are” and “how we have so much” and all the wonderful things we could do to acknowledge this and help others, don’t use the holidays to make a point about all of this or to “teach a lesson”. If this holiday gift giving reminds you of things you may want to address in this area of parenting than start january 1, 2013 and by next year giving gifts to the poor instead of the kids might start to make sense in the family. Feel free to start small and to include this kind of thinking as an adjunct or addition to your holiday giving this year to get a start for next year!
“Make it” a Great Holiday Season
Nothing says it more than a handmade gift! Make sure that at your holiday celebration that every person gives and gets something that is handmade - cards are included.... So are poems.... So are funny pictures from the newspaper glued on recycled paper.....So are seating cards at the table... Out of ideas or not that creative? Take a trip to the dollar store and start with glue and anything... It’ll come to you.
Remember Each gift is Special and not Given to Even the Score
Make sure that you don’t get caught in the "fair is equal" family dilemma. In a family, fair is "each person is seen as an individual and gets what they need and/or want". Equal is same number of gifts, same amount spent or same size of gifts under the tree and takes away from fair and special. One child wants a yoyo, one needs a bike. Sometimes wrapping the yoyo in the biggest box you can find can be fun, too! Gift giving is another “teachable moment” and holiday gifts are a reminder of what fair means in a family – letting go of equal and getting to special, unique and individual.
Beware of the Traps of Competitive Gift Giving
Avoid the traps of competition when buying gifts for children or anyone else. Remember to stop and think to yourself “i buy you this, or make this for you, or give this to you because i love you and want you to have it or enjoy it - not because i want to outshine your mother after the divorce” that being said, when we ask kids "good things about divorce?" they almost always say “having two birthdays and two christmases" – they may have caught on to this. Just as an aside, gifts given to children in divorce should not be limited to “which home the gift is to be kept at” but should be the property of the child and free to travel with them, or even to leave at the other home!
Don’t Forget Gifts are about Needs and Wants at Holiday Time!
Most of the gifts we buy are responding to wants that children have. Although they may say they really need an ipad, we know it is a want, not a need. Just to quietly remind ourselves of this, try and include something that the child needs to allow for differentiating between needs and wants without making a big deal out of it - new socks, binder for second term, new back pack, soap, shampoo.... You get it – just a reminder these are needs, those are wants.
Remember that once you have done with the giving, you will be modelling “getting” – they are watching you receive gifts – show them how it is done! “oh, an ashtray... I love it!! Thanks. You’re the best mother in law a gal could have!”