Do your children give you presents?
Have you convinced your children that giving is just as much fun as receiving? Should siblings buy for each other, or children buy for parents? Or is there too much emphasis on acquiring stuff at Christmas?
Last Christmas my son gave me the gift of ... an underarm deodorant. I should point out that this was not a comment on my personal hygiene (at least I hope not!).
This is how we do gifts in our house: the children buy for their parents and each other. Their father and I take them out shopping separately, passing no comment. They are encouraged to think for themselves about what the person they're buying for might like. My son had noticed me using deodorant when getting ready in the mornings, and with wonderful seven-year-old's logic, assumed that it was something I liked and would want more of.
The adults usually pay for these gifts, but now that both children are getting pocket money I'm thinking that they should at least contribute a little.
My son is developing quite the reputation as an inventive shopper. One year, for my birthday which is just before Christmas, he got me a box of six mince pies. I laughed like a drain at this, so he knew it had gone down well. So a fortnight later, for Christmas he got me...another box of six mince pies.
The reason we do this is because I believe that consideration and empathy are always good traits to encourage in children. I want to teach them the real pleasure to be derived from of thinking of others, and the satisfaction that can come from doing something nice for someone else. And we make a point of giving in other ways as well - by donating to the school fair and charity, or putting together a shoebox full of gifts to be sent overseas.
I don't remember doing any of this as a child, so these are new Christmas traditions our family has created. The world today is a different place, and children are becoming more aware of their place as a thinking, participating member of society, rather than a passive consumer. And I'm bracing myself for whatever my son comes up with this year.
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