Monday, December 13, 2010

A parenting word about gift giving

This is a reprint and modification of a blog I made years ago.  Hope you enjoy it.

It’s Christmas time again, and one of the SOPs of this time of year is gift giving.  For me, the frequency of gift giving is pretty intense during the ‘ber months.  My birthday is in October, my wife’s in November.  My two oldest children were born in December and October, respectively.  Then there’s the manic gift giving of Christmas…and for me that means buying a gift for the Kris cringles of all three of my kids, my work Christmas party, my small group’s Christmas party, and my mom’s small group’s party…and…and…it’s just so much.

Over the years, my wife and I, and especially our kids, have received tons of gifts.  Unfortunately, many of these gifts are not necessarily beneficial to the ones who receive them.

I have attended many parenting talks hosted by my church community (Christ’s Commission Fellowship, or CCF for short, a great disciple-making church located downtown), and often times, the verse Luke 2:52 comes up.  It is the last verse of Jesus’ childhood, and it goes:


“and Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, in favor with God and man.”

Here’s a great model of how a child should grow.  Jesus grew in wisdom (intellectually) and stature (physically), in favor with God (spiritually) and man (socially).  Everything that we do with our kids should be purposeful in developing these four areas.  To me, that “everything” should include gift giving.  I have made it a point that whenever I give a gift, it should help develop the recipient intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.

Allow me, oh gift-givers, to list down what I’d stray away from when I shop for gifts (very un-Luke 2:52).  I’m sure this list in not extensive, but it’s a great start.



A dentist's worst nightmare
1.  Candy.  Often times, loved ones (especially from abroad) will shower my kids with huge bags of candy.  I appreciate the gesture, but I don’t think it’s the best thing for them. The reasons are obvious: bad teeth, negative nutritional value, and bad dietary habits (it will take many, many days of constant junk-food binging to finish these bags).  I actually tell them my concerns here and instead advise them to give dried berries & trail mix goodies instead. Generally, the relatives comply.

2.  Toy guns.  I was advised by a great parent and mentor not to buy guns for my son, because they do nothing for him except allow him to make-believingly act out violent scenes.  I totally agree.  Kids don’t need to pretend-shoot their friends, and they won’t benefit or learn anything from doing so.  Remember, the young child is constructing himself—and if that construction involves “bang, bang—you’re dead”…well, he may not ever shoot anyone, but he’s not learning the best values, either.

3.  Violent programs/cartoons.  A mentor of mine often says that kids of a certain age tend to hero worship and tend try to be like the heroes they idolize.  Now, if the moral example they get is very violent, what will be absorbed in their little heads?  I know some irresponsible parents who allow their kids to watch violent programs (explicative-filled action movies, reality boxing shows, etc.), and then their kids run out and re-enact the scenes on the playground.  Even children’s programs themed on “good guy beats the tar out of the bad guy” shouldn’t be shown to very young audiences.

4.  Video games.  Same story as above plus (and this is a HUGE plus) they are very, very addicting...I should know.  I have some video games for the kids in the computer, but they’re usually puzzle games or ones that teach typing skills.  Still, kids today are quite sedentary compared to previous generations, and so the gifts given should encourage them to get out some (grow in stature, remember?).  Video games, with few exceptions, don't do that.

5.  Media or toy franchises that promote vanity or self-consciousness.  With all the narcissism that gets pounded into our minds every day, the last thing my kids need is some Bratz merchandise that will make them more conscious of “strutting their stuff” and all other emotions focused on self.  I want my kids to be modest and others-centered.  Their Christian and Montessori backgrounds do a good job there, but they can’t be totally sheltered from all the “spaghetti pababa” (a suggestive Filipino song) stuff out in the world.  Me, as a gift-giver, will not promote that culture to the kids I give gifts to.


This season, I will do my utmost in choosing gifts that help the recipient grow in wisdom, and stature, in favor with God, and man.  If I have time, I’d post a blog with my recommendations on Luke 2:52 gifts.  Stay tuned.  Oh, comments are welcome.

21 comments:

  1. Kelly Ramos-PalaganasDecember 13, 2010 at 11:53 PM

    I love this post! So true.

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  2. Thanks for this info. It's very timely. I'm looking at a couple of different gifts for my daughter and am happy to see that they fall within the guidelines :)

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  3. [...] God's faithful servant Just another WordPress.com weblog « A parenting word about gift giving [...]

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  4. [...] my previous blog on the subject, I promised that I would make an entry on what gifts I’d like to recommend.  Well, one of my [...]

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  5. Thanks for this guidelines... I'm looking for this specially for Christmas... i don't know what to give to my inaanak...

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  6. I don't have a child yet but I'll sure keep this in mind. :)

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  7. I totally agree with the views on this post. As a single parent, it was (and is) hard to monitor and filter out peer influences, especially when the values of others differ from yours. But I always say, why should the values of others influence mine? And I'm glad I stood my ground, because my 22 year old is a simple and practical guy :)

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  8. Write avoid sweets, violent and vanity toys for kids as this can be a source of bad habits.

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  9. Amen to this. Yes, the Bible states what is right for every life situation. for me, toy guns and video games are no-no as gifts for my nieces and nephews. It only expose younger ones to violence. BTW are you attending at CCF Alabang?

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  10. I have been giving cards throughout the years and it's working well thus far :) Also, I only get presents for very close family members and very special friends :P

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  11. Yes to this!I hate my children will receive this kind of gifts, NO WAY!

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  12. Gift giving has become part of our culture with the celebration holidays. But as parents it is our essential duty to our kids to teach them the true reason why we need to have occasions like these, such materialism will not be instilled in their minds.

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  13. thats why when i buy presents, i see to it that it would be something useful.. especially to kids.

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  14. I agree with Janine, I make sure to buy gifts that would be something useful and educational.

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  15. We cannot choose the gifts that our kids will receive. I would rather want my kids to receive money than those unnecessary toys like guns and candies.

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  16. This is a good eye-opener list. Everyone should have this list for christmas shopping specially those who wants to give something below 12 yrs old.

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  17. Yes, a list of what to give will be best! I love giving educational toys and books :)

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  18. I'd go for educational toys para sulit.

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  19. This post certainly made me think more seriously of what gifts I can give to my children this Christmas.

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  20. There are toys that will stimulate creativity and intellect of the kids... those are educational ones. There are gifts which can be DIY, more personal and done by labor of love. Still there are more gifts that we can give that can be used all the time like vanity items or home decors. We just have to be more imaginative. It's not the price that matters... it's always the thought that counts.

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  21. apir tayo jan! I am not for candies too or toy guns or violent programs.. one more thing, I am also not for battery operated toys.. if there one thing I like for my kids to receive this Holiday, that would be books and other educational stuff :)

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