In our LV Moms Money Mic series, we hand over the podium to someone with a strong opinion about family and money. These are their views, not ours, but we welcome your responses.
Today, Shirley Park shares with us why she decided to withhold gifts from her kids–and why she’d do it again.
For Christmas last year, my husband and I bought our 3-year-old daughter some Lincoln Logs, but we ended up not giving them to her for a couple of months.
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Considering the fact that the adults in our family had agreed not to exchange gifts among themselves, and to only get things for the kids, there were a lot of presents under our miniature tree.
A flurry of gift unwrapping ensued, and so did the sensory overload–at a certain point, our daughter stopped paying attention to the gifts around her. It seemed to us that she would have been equally happy if she had received just one or two gifts, as opposed to the six or seven she got that night.
Suddenly, it didn’t seem so important to give her the Lincoln Logs, so we let her open a few more gifts, and then snuck the rest of the presents back upstairs.
Why We Chose to Withhold Gifts
Our decision wasn’t really related to money–the fake Lincoln Logs only cost $11.
In general, we can afford to buy our daughter just about anything that she wants. My husband and I live near Berkeley, California, and both of us work. He’s a researcher at a university, and I’m a production editor at a scientific publisher.
It’s not surprising that, until recently, the average American child received 70 toys per year–that’s more than one toy a week, per child!–when used kids’ stuff is available on Craigslist 24 hours a day and gifts from well-meaning friends and relatives stream in regularly.
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In time-deferring the Lincoln Logs and other gifts, my husband and I were attempting to take a stand against toy overload, and abide by the less-choice-is-better principle. We did eventually give her the remaining gifts, but we staggered them throughout the next few months to make sure that she fully appreciated each one on its own.
A little deprivation really makes you savor something when you finally get it. I still remember how my brothers and I begged our mom for an Atari, which was $200 back in the ’80s. She finally caved, but she said that the Atari would be our birthday and Christmas presents for all three of us for the next two years–and she stuck to it. Boy, did we appreciate that Atari!