Christmas is magical and fun, but it can also teach kids a lot.
So why are some people trying change Christmas and avoid those lessons?
First, we had the Mothers Union wanting to cancel writing to Santa instead of teaching kids how to write good letters instead of just greedy lists. All because they don’t respect parents to be able to say no…
Ally Fogg disagreed and rightly took the parent’s responsibility of refusing expensive gift suggestions, but was perhaps a bit negative about Christmas being about soul-destroying disappointment.
Now a Melbourne paper is running a story about avoiding tearful disappointments. Not much of the article is visible online but it suggests that kids’ expectations can never be met (well how about we teach them to have realistic expectations? And teach them that sometimes we don’t get everything we want or have to work for it?) and that they shouldn’t see toy catalogues ‘so they don’t know what they’re missing out on [or] learn what a cheap skate you are’.
My son loves junk mail (he calls them magazines!) and looking at all the pictures entertains him for hours. Sure he has asked for a couple of things but I say no or ‘we’ll think about it’ so he knows he doesn’t get everything he sees.
Seeing things we don’t have can inspire our imaginations and motivate us – some we can dream about without real expectations of getting and others we want to can find a way to earn them. Why should kids not get that opportunity too?
And I totally resent being called a cheap skate because I don’t buy my children everything they (would otherwise) see in catalogues.
They don’t need everything and do need to learn they can’t get everything so of course I say no to some (many) of their requests. That doesn’t make me a cheap skate.
If I don’t buy something because I can’t afford to, that also does not make me a cheap skate. But calling me that is exactly the sort of commercial pressure that stresses parents more than writing a letter to Santa does.
Let’s get back to Christmas being positive
Christmas is fun and magical.
Santa is a loving, generous person who can teach our children to be generous and loving if we let him.
The magic and wonder of Christmas, which includes writing to a hero like Santa, is important against the amount of solid information kids get the rest of the year – so says parenting expert Michael Grose.
Writing to Santa can teach kids letter writing and communication skills (which includes caring about who you write to, not just yourself) as well as be a time to manage expectations, spend quality time together and develop some motor skills.
Teaching kids to be grateful for what they are given – making them use basic manners, sending thank you letters to Santa, letting them see others have less, and so on – is a valuable lesson. That will not only do more to stop greed for Christmas but make them better people.
Help parents teach
I would prefer to see all these ‘support groups’ and media support parents learn how Christmas can be used to help children.
Parenting is a tough job, and making rules that are hard to enforce (and that parents don’t actually want to enforce) isn’t helping.
Let’s help parents (and I need as much help as any other parents) make Christmas magical.
Let’s make Christmas a time to share and be happy.
Let’s concentrate on helping others and show our kids that is what Christmas and Santa are really all about.
How can we help parents help and teach kids? What ideas do you have?
These moves against letting kids learn from Christmas are really irritating me (can you tell?) but I shall hop off my high horse now and wait for you to share your ideas…