Ack! I don’t want to buy anything that’s on my child’s wishlist!
Yup. You’re not the first to say this. As the amount of trash out there increases in heaps, it’s not surprising that what your children or teen wants and what you would like to give them are two very different things. You’re thinking “sexualization” as she’s asking for Barbies or acrylic nails. You’re thinking “gender limitations” as she’s asking for whatever is pink, plastics and bejeweled. You’re thinking “body image killer” as she’s asking for skinny jeans and micro-minis.
And don’t think boys let you off the hook. As gaming options increase and violent games become even more popular, no doubt many of you will be getting that conflicted feeling in your belly this Holiday Season. Remember that well-mannered boy you imagined in your mind as your perfect little angel was growing into an independent young man? Well, now he’s asking for Grand Theft Auto and The Call of Duty (and there is no G version)!
Obviously, what you choose to do depends on your personal values but here are some things to think about:
(1) Do you dislike it or are you vehemently opposed? Look; when we were young our parents didn’t like all the music we listened to and likely didn’t think we looked so stylish in our too long or too big hair, fluorescent flashdance shirts and stonewashed jeans. So, does it fall in that category or do you feel that buying this gift is actually against the core values you’ve worked so hard to instill? If it’s the former, let it go. If it’s the latter, don’t buy it.
(2) Is it hurtful to your child or anyone else? We don’t want to buy a shotgun for a toddler. On the other hand, we need to get honest with ourselves and don’t want to label something a shotgun when it’s really what you believe to be “a waste of money, time, or space.” I’ll admit it—there is this one DVD my daughter loves called “Barney around the world” filled with annoying songs and talentless actors—but it is no shotgun (although sometimes my husband wishes for one when she asks us to watch it).When you look at her/his wish-list, ask yourself, is this gift a nuisance to me or is it likely to hurt my child in the short or long term (i.e. sexualization, violence, poor body image, etc)? If it’s the former, see it as an option, if it’s the latter, don’t buy it.
(3) Can you provide a giftcard instead and allow your child to make the decision? If you don’t want to use your money to buy a gift you don’t care for, give your child/teen a gift card with some parameters and allow them to buy the merchandise. This does not give them free reign to buy whatever they want, but rather, things that are within the boundaries you provide. This also doesn’t give you free reign to tell them what they have to buy—or that defeats the purpose!
(4) Can you offer an alternative? Sometimes children and teens simply ask for what’s right in front of them or what’s popular at the time. One year, my parents offered to take me to dinner and a Broadway Show as my holiday gift. Honestly, I hadn’t even considered it. Another option like this is taking your child along with his or her best friend somewhere special—like a concert, sports event, circus or bed & breakfast. Think through some other options and propose them if you don’t like what’s on their wishlist. You may even get some great family time out of it!
(5) What about providing a compromise? So, your son asks for some kind of “death-related game” and you don’t like it one bit. What does he like about it? Does he really like the blood and guts or is he simply a fan of the fast-paced action? Offer a compromise to get him a game but not one that you feel is so violent. Find out what else would still be awesome without blowing your values. Or, she wants a TV in her room and you hate that idea but you compromise on when it can be on and when it must be unplugged. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
(6) What about giving some away to charity? Sometimes it’s not the gifts your children or teens want but rather, the sheer number they want you to buy. You look around your house and all you see is toys and games. What do you need anymore for? One option is clearing out any unused toys and giving them to a local shelter. Another is telling your child that you will buy them X number of things they want and any other gifts that come in will go to charity. A third choice is asking your children to determine how much of a certain budget they want to use for presents and what percentage they want to use to benefit a charity of their choice. Finally, for any game/toy they choose to keep, two must be given away. This can help to determine what’s really wanted while benefitting others at the same time. Making this a habit can make a lifelong difference.
It’s not always easy but with some thought, you can make this holiday season great! Keep us posted on what great gifts you’re planning on giving this season.
Happy Holidays? I hate everything on my child’s wishlist! is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System