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Gifts & Gift-Giving
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Advice about Giving & Receiving Gifts
My husband and I have different perspectives on buying our kids toys, treats, etc. Part of our difference could be cultural ... I am White and I grew up in a middle-class US family on the conservative/frugal side, with WASPy values. Self-reliance, hard work, delay of gratification. My husband grew up in the US in an immigrant Asian family that had less money than my family did. We have a strong marriage and 2 young kids. We rarely have conflicts over money or spending in general.
Where we do have conflict is in spending on our kids. We have more money now than both our families did when we were our kids' age. So our kids COULD have a lot more stuff, etc., than we did. Should they?? When one of the kids wants something, my instinct is to respond with a way that s/he can ''earn'' it, either by putting it on a xmas/birthday list, or achieving some personal milestone (e.g., potty training when they were younger). They are not quite old enough for an allowance system. In other words, I tell them they have to wait and work for their reward. Most of the time, we technically can afford whatever they are asking, so the internal conflict I have with myself is whether they ought to get it just because we can afford it. For my husband, on the other hand, he feels that any disposable money we have after meeting our savings goals is up for grabs, and there's no reason the kids shouldn't get what they ask for. It drives me CRAZY when they come home from every single outing with him with new stuff, even if it's inexpensive - it's like he can't figure out a way to entertain them without buying things. I should say that his mother is 10x worse ... so it's part of his upbringing.
I know that the BPN community as a rule tends to be anti-STUFF for a number of very good reasons. But what I'm looking for here is not confirmation that I'm right but rather some perspective on how to negotiate that line. When I observe my kids with my OWN parents, I come away with the impression that my parents - despite being very loving and warm - are stingy and unnecessarily withholding of gifts and treats. Like, splitting a granola bar four ways instead of just giving the kid the whole darn thing for goodness sake. So both my husband and me are breaking away from our upbringing (he by engaging in less consumerism, me by engaging in more) but we are still having trouble finding a compromise that satisfies both our ''gut instincts.'' Ideas? Seeking a middle ground ... and family peace
If the gift or item is not on a list to purchase we're not getting it. My daughter is used to my list purchases. I'm armed with clothing and grocery lists all the time so if it's not on the list - we're not getting it. Perhaps you can start a toy list and apply the same rule to your hubbie and MIL? I like lists because there is intention and purpose behind the item purchased. Maybe there's a ''vacancy'' of large gross motor toys in the arsenal so you can focus your purchase on buying a ball or jump rope vs a pocket polly?
I'm with you on spontaneous gift buying. I think it can lead to a child's sense of entitlement vs. teaching other values like you mention in your post. So if your hubbie can agree to new house rules (purging and list purchasing) then maybe he and MIL are less likely to give gifts without purpose.
Good luck! Anna
If you insist on a compromise how about treats only on odd numbered days but an even number of treats unless the date contains a 3 or a 7 and then only 1. rules don't rule
Given that background, it was driving me crazy that my husband was buying our son toys on every excursion. We ended up going to an allowance system. My son is only three, so I kept it simple. If he gets dressed without a fuss in the morning and picks up his room and his toys he can earn up to 30 cents a day. I have a little chart where I can dock him allowance points if he messes up, and at the end of the week he gets to collect. It's enough money that he can buy the little Playmobile guys he craves, but he still has to save and manage a bit. My husband's relatives also tend to give our son money when they visit, so we agreed he could keep half to spend and would save the other half. So far it's working. Dad can still go with him to buy toys, and I don't feel like he's learning that stuff comes to you with no effort (or worse, by whining for it). anon
I grew up in middle to upperclass home and my parents could have spoiled me rotten if they wanted. Instead, if I wanted something big like a bicycle or later on to join a school trip to Europe in high school, I had to work for it. Generally my parents would agree to put in a portion but I would have to make up the gap. For the school trip, I did extra chores around the house since I didn't have a job outside the home. The amount I made up was tied to the value of what I wanted and also my ability to earn (so as I got older my portion was more).
Even for college I was expected to pay 10% plus my non-essential expenses. Every Christmas when I came home my mom and I would do accounting to see how much I owed her and I did have to fork over some of my summer earnings. I believe this taught me an appreciation for the things that I did have and how to be financially responsible. I didn't get into financial trouble when I went out on my own.
Now at 32 I am amazed and how many of my friends my age are just starting to set up retirement savings. I have had a ROTH since I was 15 (which at the time my parents contributed to for me based on my earnings) and set up a 401K with my first job. It was never a question for me to be saving for the future or to may my credit card bills in full and on time. These are lessons some of my friends have learned the hard way.
One technique is to have a kid make a list of ''wants'' so they can then look at the list and decide which thing they want the most. You can also wait a week to see how priorities change. I used this as a kid when deciding how to spend my hard-earned babysitting money.
One thing I remember from when I was a kid, is we were treated to fast food on twice-a-year road trips to grandma's. It was the only time we got fast food. My mom gave each kid $5 and said we could keep anything we didn't spend. I have to say she was brilliant. Try that with a kid sometime and see how it affects their menu choices with zero whining.
I have friends whose kids seem to know nothing about delayed gratification or earning, saving, or spending money because the parents just buy them everything. Some of these 'kids' are in their 20's and still living at home, with the parents still paying for car, gas, food, etc. which is I think one of the likely results of that practice.
Grandparents get a free pass most of the time. Frugal, loving grandparents and free-spending loving grandparents are both wonderful. Don't sweat the small stuff. Kids know not every parent or grandparent is the same, and style differences are fine. L
To me the important thing is not how much money we do or don't spend on impulse gifts for the kids, but that they learn to distinguish between things they covet as a momentary whim, and things they will truly use and enjoy to an extent that makes it worth the price -- and not just the actual purchase price, but also the social and environmental costs of producing, transporting and storing the item. Not to mention learning to moderate their consumption of things that are bad for their health.
So I would start by quelling the impulse to immediately say no, or impose some delayed-gratification system, every time your kids ask if they can have X. Instead, if YOU think it's not such a simple request as to warrant just giving it to them (like the whole granola bar), ask them what they think X is worth. Why do they want it, what do they like about it, how long do they think they will enjoy it, and what might they say that would persuade you to buy it? In other words, don't say yes OR no, at least not right away; instead, say ''convince me.'' This is a good approach to a lot of things, actually. Especially as kids get older, but you may be surprised by the level of analysis even a preschooler is capable of. (Plus, getting in the habit of this sort of conversation now will help when they start asking for things you simply don't approve of...like too-slutty clothing or too-violent games...no matter how much or how little they cost!)
We started giving our kids an allowance when they started kindergarten, and it really does help with this because you don't have to go through the questions each time. In most cases you just tell them they're welcome to buy X with their own money, which automatically causes them to think about the worth of X. :) But even if you think they're too young to have their own money, they need some practice with this kind of thinking now.
And if it helps YOU to be more relaxed about it, perhaps you could allocate a regular ''allowance'' within your normal monthly budget for ''stuff the kids want.'' It could serve as both permission for you, and a limit on your husband. :) Holly
This is going to sound ridiculous, but does anybody know of any East Bay stores that stock a wide variety of gift boxes... all different sizes, scarf boxes - gift boxes that might hold a lamp or sweater or .... I look on ebay and Uline, but don't need 100 or more. Any ideas ? Thank you in advance.
I have been invited to a Diwali celebration (Indian ''festival of lights''), and want to bring a gift for the host/hostess. Are there any of you familiar with this celebration that can recommend something appropriate? Thank you! Ellen
Our daycare providers are Muslim and they celebrate their New Year soon, the first day of Spring. They migrated from Afghanistan 20 years ago. I did not give them a gift during our Christmas holiday season and decided to wait for their own holiday. Can one of you recommend a culturally appropriate and thoughtful gift? Jeanne
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