What Are You Giving Your Child For Christmas?
What Your Child Really Wants
Is it the latest iphone or video game? How about a car for your son-just-turned-teenager? Don't get me wrong. Those gifts are fine, if your children do not already have a roomful of them. Not the car, of course. That's another story. Are you giving your children these things because you want to please them, or to keep up with the Joneses? Both? What would it cost you to provide these gifts? Increased credit card debt, longer hours at the office and less time spent with your kids as you struggle to pay off the debt?
Every year at Christmas time parents drive themselves ragged trying to give their children the latest fad advertised on television. Then on Christmas day, the kids lock themselves in their room while Mom and Dad recline in front of the television. Is that what family life is all about?
Maybe what your child really needs this year is more time spent with you. According to a new study by Kaiser Family Foundation, children ages 8 to 18 spend some seven and a half hours a day with some kind of electronic device. Throw in texting, listening to music, talking on the cellphone and surfing the internet and your child could very well be exposed to almost 11 hours of media content, most of which can be counter-productive to your child's physical, moral and educational development. The study found that heavy media use is associated with behavioral problems and poor grades, not to mention obesity.
Do Something Different This Year
This year why not give your child something different? Instead of another Xbox or ipad, why not take a Disney vacation? Shaking Mickey's hand -if he's a toddler - watching the Cinderella parade or sliding down water rapids - if he's a teen - is sure to provide family fun and guaranteed to make your child put away his cellphone.
If you live in Florida where the weather is comfortable at Christmas time you may still be able to take a swim in the ocean, go surfing, scuba diving or even fishing, if your kids are older. These activities are relaxing for you and fun for your kids.
On a budget and can't afford to go out of town? Then have a nice old-fashioned Christmas at home, baking cookies and trimming the tree together. Then sing Christmas carols, reenact your favorite Christmas story or play games together. Many towns have Christmas parades which are always a delight to every age group. My cousin who lives in New York started a tradition where she and her family bundle up on Christmas Eve night and go window shopping. She says the kids look forward to it every year.
Parents, you don't have to break the bank every Christmas trying to give your child things he/she will be bored with in a few days, or discard when the newer version comes out. What your children really want is parents who love them and show them that love by spending quality time with them. This year my son told me he is giving each of his children an iphone 5 because they all made straight As in school. They have never had a cellphone and I think it's good he should reward them this way, but I tell him just as I'm saying here, give them the gadgets if you can afford them, but do not let them take the place of spending time with your children and telling them how much you love them.