Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gifting and the Five Love Languages

christmas 2007
christmas 2007 (Photo credit: paparutzi)
Christmas is almost upon us and as usual there is a lot of discussion about gifts. A big dilemma for me when my children were little was what to get them and how much to get them. The lists they gave me seemed endless and didn't really help because they changed continually, depending on the current toy being advertised on television. Just when I thought I had a plan, the number one gift suddenly plummeted to number twenty and something new was number one.   I stayed frustrated!

Christmas can be a time of blessing our children or spoiling our children.  It's hard to draw the line when blessing can become spoiling but many adults would agree that children today in many households are growing up with a sense of entitlement reather than a sense of empowerment and responsibility.  Here are some messages that spoil our kids:

  • the way to demonstrate love is through things
  • the way to make up for parenting neglect is through things
  • the way to manipulate children into behaving is through providing things
  • the path to happiness is accumulating things
Making sure that  gifts don't become the focus of Christmas is important.  Recognizing our children's personality or temperment is helpful.  As parents we connect best with our children when we recognize the five love languages and speak to our children in those languages.  The five love languages are:
  • Words of affirmation--Could you write your child a Christmas letter that expresses gratitude for all their unique qualities?
  • Acts of service--Could you share a service project together?
  • Receiving gifts--We all focus on this one at Christmas!  One suggestion for managing this aspect of Christmas is to buy your child three gifts: one gift that the child wants, one that they need and one that is a surprise. I think this suggestion is fabulous and it covers all the possibilities. It has an element of fun, an element of practicality or educational value and it also gives the child a choice but forces some prioritizing of items.
  • Quality time--Could your gift be spending some special time enjoying a particular acitivy together?
  • Physical touch--Hopefully this is a part of every day but a gift could focus on a relaxing back rub before bed or an evening of snuggling in front of a movie as a family.
As mentioned in last week's blog, teaching our children to become other-focused rather than self-centered and me-focused is an important step in making sure that our children grow up to be caring compassionate adults. There are many ways to encourage this in our children, but Christmas is a season especially rich in opportunities to bless our children.

 Does your family have a tradition of gift giving?  How do you recognize and address the five love languages in your family?  Not familiar with the five love languages?  Here's a great book:

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