Skip to comments.Culture Challenge of the Week: 'Must-Haves' for Christmas
Posted on 11/09/2010 9:04:55 AM PST by Kaslin
"He's been asking me for weeks to get him a Nintendo DSi for Christmas," Alicia explained.
Her son, Alex, is only nine. Christmas is well over a month away but he's been relentlessly pressing for the "must-have" electronic toy that his classmates already own. Money is tight for Alicia's family these days, and the handheld device starts at 149.99. Games are extra, at $35 a pop.
Alicia doesn't indulge in expensive clothes, trendy bags, or "must have" purchases-at least for herself. But when it comes to her son, mom-guilt too easily clouds her perspective.
And retailers and advertising gurus wouldn't have it any other way. As one pollster for the retail industry put it, "It's not all about being cheap this year."
One toy company sends out something called, The Great Big Christmas Book. I foolishly thought that this advertising book might, in the midst of the toy ads, suggest the real reason for the season---the birth of Jesus Christ. Not to be. The book invites kids to "start flipping through the pages to show their parents - and Santa - the toys that will WOW them on Christmas morning," said a senior executive for the toy company. Kids can check the item off in the box provided, and mom and dad have an instant "gimme" list.
But our children's hearts are the poorer for it. Marketers manipulate the Christmas season to make our children want ever more "stuff" - to focus on how much they can "get". Remember that old joke, "He who dies with the most toys wins"? Come Christmas morning, many kids - and so many of their parents - act as if that sick joke were true.
How to save your family from merchandise mayhem
Do your best to cut-off the constant onslaught of ads targeted at your children this Christmas season. Poring over ads in search of "something I might want" not only creates an ever-growing list but a habit of greed and discontent. And face it, if a kid has to look at a book or magazine for an idea of what he "wants" then he never really wanted it in the first place. In fact, he probably never even thought about it before.
Instead, take cues from your child's life to find out the one or two things he really has his heart set on. We all remember what it was like to be "dying" for that special bike, or in the case of the classic movie, The Christmas Story, that Red Rider BB gun. And our parents, like theirs before them, often made great sacrifices to make Christmas dreams come true. Consider your child's request in light of your own family values and budget, and determine early on what you will do. If you decide against the purchase, find some way to temper the childhood hopes. One option is to help your child come up with a list of ways he can earn and save money over the next six months or so in order to buy the item himself. (This simple exercise may also reveal just how important the item really is - or isn't - to your child.)
Once you've acknowledged the reality of "desire" you can then turn your child's attention and time to encouraging him to make a list for others-gifts to be given, not received. Children need to be trained in how to develop generous habits of heart. Tell them to spend time thinking about the person who is to receive the gift, and then balance that with how much the child actually has to spend. The attentiveness taps into a warm stream of affection for the recipient, and the child's own money issues can help him to understand yours.
Must have for Christmas 2010...
Cellar with tons of ramen noodles, rice, beans and other staples to help ease the coming crash.
And guns, lots of guns.
I’m starting to worry already about creating a spoiled brat in my daughter. She’s only 18 months old but I’m already trying to think of ways to teach her the difference between needs and wants. Wants primarily being what you get by earning them.
I’m easy. I just want photography stuff.
"When I left DC to take a job as Santa's elf, Obama told me the only thing he
wants for Christmas is something in a pillbox to obliterate thoughts of Midterms."
Don’t worry overmuch about spoiling her at this age. At the moment, just let her be a kid. If you want to teach her the difference, use positive reinforcement. Try teaching her how to cook small stuff as she gets older. If you have an oven with a transparent door, let her watch the muffins bake and rise. It’ll be endlessly fascinating.
Teach her the rewards of having earned something herself. I can tell you that if you teach her to feel great satisfaction after accomplishing something herself and praise her for being self sufficient in the small things, you’ll instill an instinctive sense of accomplishment when she takes initiative in the larger things in life. Then later on you’ll have a little girl who won’t THINK of doing the stuff that other tarts these days do. a
She’ll learn self respect and self confidence, not self esteem.
Basically, anything you might consider giving for Christmas or a birthday is a “want,” because all genuine needs of a young child - food, clothing, shelter, diapers - should be met at the time the need emerges.
My youngest is 17 months old, and I don’t think he’s capable of recognizing that he’s been given a present at this age. He plays with everything in the house, anyway, no matter whose it is. Your daughter might like a ream of paper and a box of crayons, if she doesn’t eat crayons (my son does). My older byos (4, 6, 8) love getting 500 sheets to draw on.
I want an Aimpoint for Christmas.
I promise I won't use it to hunt reindeer.
here is the thing.... When I was growing up I wanted all the neat stuff. My folks, God bless them, did the best they could but money was always tight... I was thankful with what I got... and I never got all I wanted. Kids today are spoiled rotten. You see it in the stores when they throw tantrums because they are not getting their way and the poor parents are completely in a panic to corect the behavior cause some liberal nazi may be watching and you can’t spank a child in public any more without it being called abuse...
Kids are going to have to learn what I was taught. “You cant always get what you want”
No such thing
...but not cheap.
It would be FAR better for the 9 year-old to learn that he can’t have everything he wants. Get him some good books instead....and start planning to DO things with him.
Maybe teach him how to earn the money he needs to buy something (Economics 101).
I’m a grandma entering my seventh decade of life and I have a DSi. In Jan I was in an automobile accident and I believe that dsi saved my husband’s sanity. Unlimited sudoku, tetris, etc, etc... And it is so much better in the drs office than those 4 year old magazines with the good recipes already torn out. I do need a high level of entertainment for my brain cells sometimes, besides it makes me the coolest grame. Especially with my 4 yr old grandson, who no one thought he could figure it out. Took him one afternoon, and now he says, âdon’t need no helpâ. Mine also has math problems, language apps and brain testing skills. Gives your score as your ‘brain age.’ Mine is better at somethings than others.
I think the key is moderation. Do unto others what you would have done unto you. In other words, what would have been to best thing to do raising you?
Keep an emphasis on the Christmas story, do some kindnesses for others, and keep up traditions like cookie baking (take some to the firehouse!), decorating with stories attached to decorations (Grandma’s stocking, the ornament Daddy brought back from overseas, etc.), and sing Christmas carols for sure. Go Christmas caroling!
Read good Christmas-oriented stories, and skip the majority of the movies that have the one theme of “saving Christmas.” Little Drummer Boy is good; so is It’s a Wonderful Life.
Try knitting and/or crocheting, too! You have something useful at the end of your entertainment. Many patterns are quite complex and a good challenge.
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