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© Gail Underwood Parker

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Parenting Tips: Fighting Materialism

Are you tired of the long wish lists from your children, filled with expensive toys and games and equipment likely totally enough to inspire terror in an already strained pocketbook this season? Try this tip for fighting the materialistic mindset pushed by TV commercials and stores everywhere.  Teach your children to divide their wish list into four equal lists.

1. Fold a piece of paper into a four square.
2. Label each with a category: Buy, Make, Do For, and Do With.
3. List wishes in each category.
4. Challenge each child to keep all the categories equal.
5. Challenge the givers to balance gifts among all four categories.

Younger children will suddenly be able to give gifts on an equal footing with their older siblings.  Suddenly a back rub, or manicure, or a week of clearing the table becomes a respected gift.  The gift of time spent playing a board game together, or going for a walk together, is acknowledged as both something to wish for and as valuable to receive.

Whether for a holiday or birthday or graduation using four square wish lists and gifts has the power to transform attitudes and provide delight in the truer forms of gifts. Money becomes a peripheral, lesser fraction of the gift equation, where I believe it should be, not just in tough economic times, but always.

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