Each and every one of us loves our children and we want to give them all that we can. Few things give a parent more joy than seeing their children’s faces light up on Christmas morning when they see all of the wonderful surprises that Santa has left for them. These are memories that we will cherish together for the rest of our lives but did you know that you can give too much?
I remember when I was little that I was very fortunate. It seems that I always had everything that I wanted and for me this was a normal part of life. I didn’t realize that not all of the other children were as fortunate as I was. I remember one particular Christmas morning I had opened up what seemed like a thousand gifts from good ole’ Santa and then I said something that made my parents very angry.
I didn’t mean it the way it sounded but now as a parent myself I can understand why my parents became so upset. I thought that in all the confusion there may still have been a gift that I hadn’t noticed and innocently enough (or so I thought) I said the immortal words, “Is that all?” I can’t begin to describe the look of disappointment and shock on mom and dad’s faces. I had just finished opening a ton of gifts from Santa and this was what I said? Yes, I was spoiled.
Why did I decide to write a blog about something so personal? Well, I thought that maybe now would be a good time to remind ourselves that maybe, just maybe we are doing our children a disservice by spoiling them a bit too much.
A recent study done at the University of Missouri suggests that excessively spoiled children are prone to suffer from credit card debt, gambling issues and even compulsive shopping disorders when they grow up. Simply stated, having too much as a child creates the need as an adult to always want more. It makes sense if you think about it, right? Spoiled child = spoiled adult.
The study also suggests that excess materialism can result in low self esteem and those of us that enjoy giving gifts more than receiving them tend to be less egocentric and have more empathy for others. So what should we as parents do to ensure that our children have a happy and wonderful childhood without spoiling them?
First of all we can set a limit to the number of gifts that we buy for our little ones. Not just during the holidays but at all times of the year. Meaningful gifts that your child will really enjoy are much more important than a mountain of goodies that will be discarded shortly after being opened. The best gifts might be those that enhance creativity and develop interests such as musical instruments, art supplies and games that allow your child to be involved with something and not just staring at it.
I also think that we should teach our children about the joy of giving, not just receiving. Every community offers many different ways to volunteer your time or items to help those less fortunate than you. Why not have your child help you to deliver some canned goods to a local church or organization that feeds the hungry at this time of year? What about visiting a nursing home with your young one or a hospital ward for children? There are plenty of ways to teach your child that giving can be more rewarding than receiving and that just may be the best gift you can ever give them.