Friday, December 01, 2006

More, more, more!

I ran across this today, and I simply must share it. Robert Needlman, M.D. gives us some advice on how to avoid Christmas becoming only about the presents.

Pay close attention to the developmental psychology, it's telling.

He writes:

Here in the world's richest country, we often confuse material things for love. "I give him everything," a frustrated mother complains, "New shoes, videogames, his own TV. You'd think he'd at least show me respect!"

Of course, love and consumer goods are related. Most parents work hard to earn money. They want their children to have more than they did. They sacrifice so that their children can have better lives.

The problem is, most children don't connect the things parents buy with the labor that pays for them. Children have more, but our culture -- and television in particular -- teaches them that more is never enough. Having more does not guarantee that a child feels loved.

From a parent's point of view, this all may seem like plain ingratitude. But normal developmental forces are at work. Young children see their parents as all-powerful. If parents fail to provide what they want, it must be a matter of choice. It's normal for children, even well into school-age, to not be able to take another person's point of view. For example, they may resent their parent for working long hours, and not realize that the parent would also rather have more time at home.

As hard as these issues are all year round, they're even harder during the holidays. For many children, Christmas is all about the presents. Even in devout families, it's easy for the religious meaning to be lost amid the tinsel and wrapping paper. At the same time, the holidays heighten needs for connection and belonging which cannot be filled by more and bigger presents.

Instead, we have to find other ways to express love and create memories. Reading or telling stories together, making music, playing games, are all ways for families to spend time without spending money. Traditions like midnight services, caroling, favorite poems, even snowball fights, all serve the same purpose. Most important, as parents, we have to learn to hold back some energy from our exhausting jobs and all-consuming careers. When we're present for our children we ourselves become the presents we want to give.

To read see the original article, click here

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

No comments: