Enough Already! When Does Generosity Becomes Overindulgence?

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By Laura Deutsch and Heather Ouida

Editor's note: One ofthe questions most often asked by parents during the holidays is, when it comesto shopping for our kids, when is enough, enough? Here, Laura Deutsch andHeather Ouida ofbabybites-an educational and social group for new moms and moms-to-be-tacklethe question of materialism and modern parenting.

For many families, December is associated with shopping,presents, parties, presents, food, presents, glitter, presents, religion, andof course, presents. The question of "How much is too much?" comes up a lot inour community of moms at babybites. As moms of young children ourselves, weturned to our own mothers-financial advisor Dahlia Peyserand parenting coach Dr. Karen Rancourt-for some sageadvice on celebrating the season without spoiling our kids.

How can I begenerous with my kids without being overindulgent?

Dahlia Peyser:Isee no harm in enjoying the commercial aspects of the season. Problems arisewhen the consumer is purchasing for personal needs inconsistent with a healthyrelationship to money: "I want my kids to feel cared for," "I don't want mychild to be jealous of others," "I want to give my child everything I didn'tget when I was growing up." Most problems arise when the children absorb the parents'conflicted attitude and begin to use spending and accumulating as a weapon.

How can I effectivelydeal with my child saying, "I want??"

Karen Rancourt:Keepa running list of all these I-want items for your child and each time she says,"I want?" say, "Let's add it to your gift wish list and then we can consider itas a birthday or holiday gift." Then, when gift-giving time is on the horizon,you can prioritize the wish list with your child. When grandparents and othersask what they can get for your child, reference his or her gift wish list.Keeping a gift wish list for yourchild has several benefits: it helps him learn deferred gratification, it cutsdown on disappointments, it eliminates the exchange frenzy and it helps giftgivers feel that they're giving something that is truly of value or interest tothe child.

How can I encouragerelatives not to overindulge my children?

K.R.:Yourchild's gift givers typically think of purchasing something material, butincluding on the wish list events and experiences as gifts can be incrediblyenriching and valuable. Think how excited your child will be to learn that as agift, Grandma and Grandpa are taking her to the circus, or for art lessons atthe museum, or to rent a boat in Central Park, or to seea Broadway musical.

How can I emphasizegraciousness and gratitude when receiving gifts?

K.R.:Prior toyour son's opening his presents, review with him the cardinal rule of acceptinggifts: "Even if you are disappointed, always look at the gift giver and say,'Thank you!'"You can also help yourchild be a gracious gift receiver by handing him each gift to be opened, makingsure he opens each card and either reads it himself or has it read to him.

To read the full article at New York Family Magazine click here.

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