Gift the Mom, Not the Kid on Children’s Birthdays
Just as my son’s first birthday was approaching, my husband came to talk to me about his idea for a gift. He said, “We should celebrate you!”
I laughed at the thought of it, but he was serious. He continued and explained that he wanted to begin a new tradition of celebrating me on our son’s birthdays so that our son had a better understanding of the importance of motherhood. While the idea seemed a bit radical, I thought about the society we live in — one that almost demands we provide extravagant parties for children who then have high expectations as to what they’re supposed to be gifted on their birthdays.
But what would birthdays look like if we didn’t do that? I believe moms should be celebrated daily, so acknowledging them on the day they gave birth or received the gift of motherhood is actually monumental. In fact, it can even be an important lesson for children, and here’s why.
Gifting the mom opens the door for children to have greater respect for their parents by honoring the vessel that helped the child with the necessities in the world.
Whether it’s a mother who carried children within her womb or mothers who went through trying processes, paperwork and interviews, they should all be respected just the same. Respect is a true way of also displaying acceptance for others. As parents, we are fallible, and having our children’s acceptance is a vital step in them respecting our overall role.
It’s very uncommon that we, as a society, champion making someone else shine. Selflessness is about placing others before oneself and is an invaluable quality our children should possess. This quality transcends beyond adolescence and is a necessity in college, business and life.
Selflessness also encompasses exhibition of humility, care for others and patience. Col. Eric Kail wrote in “The Washington Post” that the best leaders are those who exercise selflessness. He further argues that to be selfish is more of a sign of weakness than it is of strength because it takes the path of least resistance.
Decreases Sense of Entitlement
Entitlement is something that can be birthed from learning how to be selfish. Teaching our children the difference between what they’re supposed to have versus what they want to have is imperative. When children are showered with gifts and parties, it can create a groundswell of expectation that they’re always supposed to get something.
Gift-getting, for children, can sometimes come married with a cloud of believing it’s all about them. Furthermore, presenting children with gifts or parties stands to create a narrative that this is what parents and guardians are “supposed to do,” as opposed to making a choice to do so.
Provides Value of Giving
As parents, we genuinely want our children to understand the importance of service to others. That service can begin within our own homes. The power in giving shows that we can honor understanding what it means to go without for the sake of someone else.
There have been various studies that have come to the conclusion that those who give are much happier than those who withhold. There’s a responsibility and accountability that is enacted when children take the road of being a giver. Giving to their mother and understanding the role that she is meant to play will also generate a true sense of pride.
Diminishes Bully Behavior
Children who are often showered with gifts and find attachments to material goods can also feel the need to flaunt in the presence of classmates and friends. By eliminating an exchange of goods without any services rendered, children won’t feel the need to show off to others.
Envy has been known to be a major cause of bullying. If given the opportunity to make birthdays less about the child, they’d be less likely to brag about a party or purse for their mom. In addition, children that have expectations of overindulging in receiving gifts and such will often exhibit bullying behavior toward their parents.
Knowing that a holiday or birthday is approaching creates monsters known as wish-lists. These lists often come with gift ideas that children believe they need and, if they do no receive them, will engage in bullying behavior.
Promotes Good Manners
Interestingly enough, whenever we gift our children, it is based on our own merits, efforts and hard work. We have all witnessed a child toss aside or turn their face up to a gift they didn’t particularly care for. By gifting mom, instead of the children, they will learn the value in having to say “thank you,” “I appreciate you” or “I value who you are.”
Having good manners are characteristics of strong character and will transcend childhood. Children that exhibit good manners grow into teenagers with a better display of respect and adults with a brighter future.
Enforces Gratitude and Appreciation
Gratitude and appreciation for what they already have is a step in the direction to create well-rounded children.
In fact, Tom Gilovich, a psychology professor and research conductor of social psychology and behavioral economics at Cornell University, told “Time” that people are more grateful for being introduced to experiences rather than material goods.
Having empathy for someone outside yourself is a great quality to possess. If we show our children the importance of looking outside one’s own wants by putting themselves in the shoes of their parents, they’ll have a greater sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
Imagine having to explain to your child that everything they do would have to impact their sibling or society, the same way parents go out and work to make sure they have food, shelter, etc. They’d probably be mortified to feel that they couldn’t just be but may gain a greater understanding of how difficult is it to put the work in to provide them with necessities and additives to their lives, daily.
Grants License for Higher Self-Worth
Materialism has, many times, been linked to a sense of low self-worth. By teaching our children the aforementioned, we are actively raising children with a sense of greater purpose, which also produces a better self-esteem.
Psychology Today says that children who possess less material goods, yet have good relationships with their parents and others, often score higher on tests that assessed self-esteem.
Celebrates the Position of the Parent
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing. It is one of those jobs that don’t come with any bonuses, paid time off or extended leaves in the event of illness. In fact, a study showed that being a mom is equivalent to having 2.5 jobs.
I think that children should have a better understanding of just how difficult it is to be a parent, especially since the job does not come with a manual or start-up kit.
Honors Mental Health
Outside of gratitude and appreciation, we ultimately want to feel loved. Gifts that are not necessarily always material — i.e., honoring a mother’s self care and mental health — can go a long way.
Oftentimes, people think of gifting a handbag or a new outfit, but a trip to the spa, an aromatic bubble bath or a sponsored night out with some friends can really change how a mom is able to effectively operate. As a parent, we can be full of doubts and insecurities. Recognizing that a mom’s mental health is of optimal importance for the collective is the best gift of all.
Highlights Achievements in Healthy Ways
Ultimately, we are working it all out based on trial and error. Our goal is to raise a child with healthy values that includes servicing others, celebrating people who are active participants in their growth or development, and learning the power in giving versus receiving.
As an adult, I have a better understanding that you will not always be recognized for your efforts, and that shouldn’t make or break you. Children have yet to experience the fullness of the world, and we aim to show our son that he can still shine even when the spotlight is not aimed in his direction. However, we do ensure to always champion his accomplishments and personal achievements in healthy ways.