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Giving gifts to children

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Is there a limit?

I am writing this blog post the week before Christmas.

What I am learning about giving gifts to my children is coming from my own experience as a child.

The wealth of today’s world is much more than 30 or 40 years ago, at least so it seems.

For many years, my children received very little compared to cousins or friends.

What that meant was explaining why some get iPads and others not, to very young children.

Getting a better picture of memories that truly last, meant that I needed to shift from my expectation to my younger self.

My worst Christmas memories are also my best Christmas memories.

One year my family spent Christmas in a hotel and I ended up in hospital for some of our stay.

My fall from a slide left me concussed at the age of 7, alone in an East German hospital bed where I had nobody to comfort me.

What a different time that was when children stayed in hospitals without their parent.

Were you ever hospitalised and felt all alone?

Leaving Germany for good, did not seem as difficult as that Christmas experience.

What I mean is that learning to cope by myself and surviving made me much stronger than you might think.

Why do we overprotect our children and buy them so many presents and don’t allow them to feel some disappointment in life?

After all, they have everything they need and more than enough.

You are probably like me and wish your child was not excluded from going back to school in January and not having received the latest … (fill in the blank).

For years, I have been on a decluttering journey and have felt so much freedom: having to manage less stuff.

This is especially true when it comes to guilt over material things in my home and not being able to let them go.

After my life was changed through owning less and feeling I could breathe in every room, I decided that all Christmas brings now is more clutter around me.

I have been called grinch before and I don’t mind anymore.

Life has become so information-heavy that having less around me has greatly helped with my mental health.

What is your state of mind like before Christmas?

My finding has been that this time of year is all about doing less copying what nature does:

The leaves are dying, the days are short and our bodies seem to crave rest.

In January all that changes and nature starts waking up again.

Everything start growing even underground where we can’t see it yet.

This ancient Ayurvedic principle of modelling our lives according to natural law has been most helpful when it comes to keeping my children balanced too.

Being a parent who has a different approach is not always easy, especially when at this time of year, families come together and you start defending your parenting style.

What I sometimes want to communicate, is not always what comes out of my mouth and finding the right language can be hard.

What have you gathered that works when it comes to accepting others for being different?

Rudolf Dreikurs writes in “Children, the challenge” :

the more different personality types our children are exposed to when they are young, the better prepared they are for life.

Even though ‘Minding your own business’ was one of the hardest chapters to read in his book, it also brought me the deepest wisdom on stopping the blaming and shaming of others.

How I just got here amazes me and you may wonder what this was all about?

The point I am trying to make is that we don’t need to defend ourselves, explain ourselves or justify how we parent our children to anyone.

If you find yourself in the next conversation with someone else and observe your pattern of your need to convince them, have a question ready to change the conversation.

Here are some ideas:

  • What are your plans for next year?

  • What is the best memory from this year?

  • What would you do differently if you could re-live this year?

  • What do you like most about yourself?

  • Where would you like to be right now if you were not speaking with me?

Sometimes it is good to have a plan and then remain open to whatever happens.

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