A thought struck me this morning.
I recently heard an acquaintance talking about their Christmas break. She and her husband had decided to do a scaled down version of Christmas this year. They would buy each child a large gift valued at about $200 dollars. They would not provide other gifts at Christmas. In the spring, they would take a trip together as part of their Christmas gift.
Christmas night, the husband put the children to bed. When he came back into the living room. He told the wife that the children were mad at her. She could not believe it and blew up at him. "Those kids are so selfish!" she said. I was shocked. Who is the selfish one in this picture?
Then I heard of another similar incident. A young boy had his birthday. For his birthday, he got an $8 toy and a pair of $20 shorts. He was still out on Christmas break and spent the entire day of his birthday in the car with his dad running errands. He did get to eat out that evening and got a birthday cake, but it made me wonder, is that the best his parents can do?
Flash back to our Christmas. We spent way too much on gifts. This year, since we have teenage girls it was harder to find things they really wanted. Some clothes, some boots and shoes, some Apple accessories, a movie, $200 gift cards. We know it is over the top, but this is our last year with both of the girls living at home. Our oldest will move to college in August.
It made wonder, which is the best way to approach it? Is the "less is more" approach really better? Or does it instill the thought in the child's head that they really do not matter? Do the children wonder why the parents can afford lots of new things for themselves, but they only got one or two gifts?
Does "more, more, more" really send a better message? Does this make the children spoiled? Does this make them expect too much, and then when they don't get it, they are really disappointed?
I think both things are true. The "less" approach can weigh on the kid's mind and maybe even their heart. But I think the "more" approach can set the stage for future disappointments. Now knowing this, why do we still choose the "more" approach? I want my kids to know they are loved. I want my kids to know they are worth the effort. I want my kids to understand that giving to others is more important than giving to themselves.
I personally don't believe more is better. In this instance, I have to make an exception though. More is better when demonstrating to my kids that they are important, loved, and worth the extra effort.