You know that thing you plan to wrap and give to your child this holiday season? What do you call that thing? Before you call it a gift, remember:
- It's not a gift if you require a certain type or amount of appreciation in return.
- It's not a gift if you reserve or exercise the right to take it away at any moment, for any reason.
- It's not a gift if you force your child to use it (or not use it) in a certain way.
- It's not a gift if you use it as a tool to manipulate your child.
- It's not a gift if you make your child feel guilty for using it too much or not using it enough.
***THIS IS NOT A GIFT***
This item is on loan to you under certain conditions.
It can and will be taken away from you at the will of your parents, for any reason, including but not limited to: your room is too messy, your grades are too low, you were grumpy one day, you made a mistake.
And don't forget to also label those things your child gets from "Santa" or anyone else, if you plan to use them in the same way. Those are not gifts either.
If you give your child something as a gift, remember that you are surrendering possession of that thing. You are permanently transferring ownership of that thing. It no longer belongs to you. It belongs to your child. If someone else gives your child something as a gift, remember that thing never belonged to you in the first place. Let your child own her own things.
A gift is something given freely and without strings attached. It's something you give because you want to give it. A giver of a gift does not expect anything in return. The giving of a gift is a happy transaction. If your gift is not like this, then it is not a gift at all. It is something else entirely.
The issue here is much larger than the meaning of the word "gift". See a follow-up post here: Do Your Children Own Anything?
There's a new post on Parent-Free By Choice today, Not Well Adjusted: The Day It Ended. The author explains that she is no longer speaking to her mother because she "couldn't take her constant judging, harassing, and demands anymore."