Don’t you love giving to your kids? It’s one of my favorite things. Picking out the perfect present for Claire is so much fun. Or surprising her with something I know she will love. Or saying “yes” to something that she doesn’t expect me to approve. I love the delight on her face and excitement in her eyes. Good parents want to give good gifts to their kids, and that’s a good thing! But have you noticed the trend as of late to give excessively? Like, a lot. Like, way too much? I feel like this trend of overindulging our kids is picking up steam and gaining momentum by the day. Everything is done in excess. Every special day or occasion has to be celebrated to a hilt. The bar for what’s expected keeps moving up, and parents don’t seem to be able to say no.
Growing up, I have fond memories of my birthday, class parties, and other special occasions. These things were exciting because they were special and more importantly because they were rare. I loved every special day my family spent together – not because my parents spent a boatload of money buying things for us, but because of the beautiful traditions we created as a family. Contrast that with special occasions for kids nowadays, and you see how excessive we’ve become.
Birthday Party Then:
– Call family and close friends and invite them to come.
– Make a cake in the shape of some animal.
– Party starts – eat cake, open presents, play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.
Birthday Party Now:
– Select a party theme.
– Take pictures and create designer invitations.
– Send out invitations and create Facebook event page.
– Plan a menu to fit with the theme.
– Reserve bounce house/reserve a location.
– Order custom cake.
– Decorate and create goodie bags.
– Party starts – guests are amazed at your elaborate decorations; kids play games, jump in bounce house, do activities; guests eat; birthday kid opens presents; guests use photo booth; kids receive goodie bags.
Loosing a Tooth Then:
– Kid looses tooth, puts tooth under pillow.
– Tooth Fairy comes and leaves a half-dollar.
Loosing a Tooth Now:
-Kid looses tooth, puts tooth in designer box under pillow.
– Tooth Fairy sprays $10 bill with glitter.
– Tooth Fairy leaves glittery bill under pillow.
– Kid goes to the store and buys a toy with the money he “earned” from loosing his tooth.
Good Grades on Report Card Then:
– Parents say, “Great job! I’m so proud of you and I’m glad you worked so hard.”
Good Grades on Report Card Now:
– Parents say, “Good for you. Here’s $10 for each A you got.”
– Kid thinks he should get paid every time he does his best at something and does what is expected.
– Kid goes to store and buys toys with the $50 she received.
– Repeat 5 more times each school year.
Elf on the Shelf Then:
– Say what?!?
Elf on the Shelf Now:
– Purchase Elf on the Shelf kit for $29.95.
– Read the book and come up with a name for your family’s elf.
– DAILY come up with a creative, silly, ridiculous activity for your elf to complete.
– Repeat for the entire month of December.
– Side Note: Why are we demonstrating daily acts of rebellion for our kids? Do they not come up with creative enough ways to buck authority on their own??
Christmas Presents Then:
– A new bike
– A wagon
– A baby doll
Christmas Presents Now:
– DS Games
– iPod Touch
– A new bike
– American Girl Doll
– Justice Shopping Spree
– Seriously – every year after Christmas break I am astounded at the amount of money some of my students’ families spend on their gifts.
Easter Egg Hunt Then:
– Place a tootsie roll in each egg.
– Hide eggs.
– Kids find eggs and eat candy.
Easter Egg Hunt Now:
– Send out invitations for the egg hunt.
– Decorate and make snacks for the egg hunt.
– Fill eggs with an assortment of candies.
– Designate particular eggs as “prize eggs” and fill them with $1 bills, $5 bills, $10 bills.
– Hide eggs.
– Kids find eggs, eat candy, get rich; other kids complain because they didn’t get the prize eggs and money – give money from your wallet to these kids;
– Give prizes away to kids who found the most eggs.
– Kids eat more candy, eat snacks, eat more candy.
When we overindulge our kids time after time, they begin to think that life will always treat them this way. What a disappointment we are setting them up for! We give and give and give, and our kids never learn to appreciate what they have, only to want more. These kids grow up entitled, believing that they always deserve something new, more exciting, better. Kids are learning to keep up with the Joneses, and we parents play along. Of all the gifts we can give our children, one of the most important is teaching them to be content. Our kids won’t learn this on their own – we have to show them how.