Thursday, December 9, 2010

Getting a Grip on Gift-Giving

image by scottchan
'Tis the season - to be jolly and for general merriment. Yes, it's all quite lovely. Everywhere you look, there's a sense of celebration, of giving, and receiving, and of spending.. but something just doesn't feel right.

Somewhere along the line, we've gotten so caught up with the spirit of the season, that we haven't noticed what it all means, or stopped to consider the consequences of our actions. When did 'giving' equate to giving lavish presents, and multiple ones at that? Or giving presents that are demanded? when did spending equate with spending money?

Call me a Grinch, but I feel we are fueling a sense of entitlement in our kids by spoiling them rotten with our gift-giving. Case in point, a friend of mine by her own words, has barely enough money for groceries because of unexpected and extenuating circumstances. Yet, she signed up with a program in which she gives a christmas present to an economically disadvantaged child. A very noble gesture I have to admit. And I'm very proud of her for signing up. But what irks me is that the child gets to ask for what they want, and this kid wanted an ipod. So my friend has to cut down on groceries so that she may gift an ipod to a 9-year-old she does not know. "Does a 9-year-old really need an ipod?" I ask, and I'm told that if everyone else in his/her class has one, then they might need one too.

Now before you go ahead and question my charity, or lack thereof, please note that even though I didn't sign up for the same program as my friend, I did at the beginning of the school year, spend a considerable amount of money on books and supplies for needy kids. In my world, that makes sense because kids do need books, backpacks, pens, pencils, erasers, and even lunch boxes, etc to better themselves. But an ipod I have to say is frivolous, and I'm angry at my friend for enabling this child to expect things from others in order to keep up with the Joneses. This sort of gift-giving in my opinion is what fosters an unrealistic view of finances in children and helps them attain a false sense of entitlement. That kid will now NOT feel the need to earn or save money for his wants, but feel that he can just ask for them. And I don't see how that will help this kid in the long run.

In addition, my poor friend might feel good about her act of charity, but really, how is she better off, when it came out of her grocery budget, and when she is doing without snow boots that she desperately needs this winter??? Before we open up our hearts this holiday season, I think it is imperative that we not confuse the concept of giving with giving beyond our means, and giving into frivolous demands. By all means, give love, give time, and give your best effort. But remember, our children are watching.

1 comment:

  1. Next year, give her my name... I don't have an iPod yet :(

    I agree, that's crazy, my kids don't have iPods either.

    Perhaps the child was unaware of the cost, perhaps she doesn't understand?

    Who know, all I know is I probably wouldn't have given the iPod as give. Maybe $100 as a gift instead...


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