Every Christmas season I wind up talking to parents who tell me that their folks came over with very expensive gifts for their kids. And this happens a few times during the year as well. The grandparents mean well and want to show the love they have for their grandchildren. But such an expensive watch, bracelet, computer game or item of clothing goes against what the parents are trying to teach their children. Some parents have told me that they have instructed the grandparents to “go easy” with the gift-giving, but to no avail.
Here are 5 things that you can do:
1. As parents, sincerely pray over the matter before you sit and talk with the grandparents. Pray that the Lord will calm your emotions as you discuss the matter. A God-Touch. Pray to understand where they are coming from. Maybe they grew up in a lower-income home or were not able to give you the kind of gifts that they wanted to give. Maybe they are trying to compensate. Your parents may be craving love and think that giving such expensive gifts will provide it. We all want to feel loved, appreciated and needed.
2. Schedule a time and a place away from your children where you can have a serious discussion. Let your parents know how much you love and appreciate them. Then share with them some of the values and the standards you are using to raise your children: the importance and the value of people and not things. Share with them the reasons why you want your children to not be in competition with what their friends have. Explain the standard of possessions you are trying to set for your children and invite them to participate in it. Don’t be afraid to lovingly share an incident or two where their gift did not meet your standard. Share how you felt. Feelings are neither right or wrong, they just are.
3. Present your parents with the idea of a savings account for their grandchildren. Then when their grandchildren need what meets the family standard, they can share their appreciation for what their grandparents have given them. You can discuss a high school or a college fund with them.
4. You can also discuss with your parents a limit on the number and the amount of their gifts. Tell them that you would like to know about their gifts, since some might be “off limits” to the standards you are using. This way they still have the pleasure of gift-giving.
5. You can suggest that your kids appreciate most of all their “presence” more than their gift “presents.” One grandmother I know sends a short note to each of her grandkids every week or two, telling them that she is thinking about them, praying for their success in a test or an upcoming game, and that she loves them. She puts $2.00 in the envelope so they can buy candy or juice. I find her grandkids to be well-balanced, kind, caring and loving individuals as they mature and grow.
As someone said: “Children are often spoiled because
No one will spank Grandma or Grandpa!”