During the holidays, many of us spoil our children with stuff. We give them new toys, video games, clothing, gift cards and other random treats. Our kids learn lessons from each of these objects. They receive messages about what the adults in their lives value.
All parents eventually discover that kids are way much more observant than they thought. Children are aware of how much money we spend around the holidays. They see us open our wallets, they overhear us expressing financial anxiety. They recognize that we’ve made hard decisions about each of the presents they will receive. Even if they can’t articulate it, they know that we’ve prioritized certain kinds of spending over others.
We are the primary adults in our children’s lives, their role models. How we spend our hard earned cash sends serious and formative messages about what we value. It shapes our kids’ ongoing assessment about what maturity means. It influences their sense of what it means to be an adult.
Relax, and stop rolling your eyes! This article is not a rant against consumerism. I’m happy to buy things for my kids. I’m happy to support the retailers—who depend so heavily on holiday shopping—and make up an indispensable part of our collective economic prosperity. But I also think deeply about the lessons that underlie each unwrapping experience that my kids enjoy.
Here are four ways you can send subtle messages to your kids through holiday gift giving.
Kofi Annan once said that “arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity.” Some folks may might not like the way it has all gone down, but the future (and the present) is a globally connected economy. In almost every job, tomorrow’s workers will interact with people from all over the globe. How can we make sure our children are prepared?