Spoiled Kids Need Lesson in Gift-Giving
November 22, 2012 4:36 PM Subscribe
What can I do to teach my spoiled niece and nephew about the importance of giving this holiday season?
posted by paperclip2000 to society & culture (37 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My brother and his wife have two terrific children: a boy (age 12) and a girl (age 9).
There is one big problem: They have a lot of stuff. A. lot. of. stuff. And, furthermore, they simply do not appreciate the stuff that they have.
In fact, they don't have time to play with it; they simply have been trained to consume, to own, to possess... to curate haphazard piles of American Doll merchandise or Lego's in their rooms amidst piles of forgotten toys and other items of fleeting importance. They live in a quintessential small-town American suburb in a new housing development that has what I would call "modest" McMansions (perhaps an oxymoron?). And they have everything they could possibly need: their own rooms, a backyard swing set, a playroom, tons of video games, toys galore, brand-name clothes, a big beautiful house, parents who buy them anything...
Am I envious? Possibly. Well, yes, okay I am... especially considering that I grew up in a trailer in the middle of nowhere. We didn't have a lot of stuff but we appreciated the stuff that we did have. This isn't because we were inherently grateful children, however: We had to appreciate it because my dad promised that if we broke or lost something then it would not be replaced. So, for better or worse, we learned a lesson about ownership and appreciation at a young age.
My brother and his wife make some nice money, and there is nothing that I can do about the fact that they spoil their kids. Kids should be spoiled (to a degree), and it's not my place to tell the parents that I think the kids have too much stuff and that this could affect them negatively. This interest in possessing things has been encouraged by the parents (whether they know it or not), so bringing it up could potentially be disrespectful and critical of them, and I don't want to do that.
The potential problem is that I don't want my niece and nephew to grow up to be ungrateful A-holes who have an insatiable need to receive, receive, receive while never realizing the importance of giving. It appears to me that they don't really understand that other people don't have as much stuff as they do. They couldn't conceive of breaking something and not having it replaced. That is what really gets to me. I have heard my niece flippantly say "I'll just get a new one" after it was discovered that she had lost a Nintendo DS game. Trust me, I know that kids think money grows on trees, but it is really amplified with these two.
I just want them to know that there are kids out there right now who have so little while they have so much. I want them to feel better about giving than about receiving.
So, here is the meat of my post:
Does anyone know of any non-religious-based social programs that would connect my possession-laden niece and nephew with children/families who are not as fortunate? I have thought about Toys for Tots (an excellent program -- my husband was a recipient when he was little and so we donate every year), BUT I would like something that might actually give a name/face to the recipient. That is, with Toys for Tots, you buy a gift for a nameless someone and then drop it off. I would like something where my niece and nephew would buy a gift for a specific child. I think they would feel really good about themselves if they knew that another kid would be receiving the gift they purchased. Does that make sense? It humanizes the process, I suppose.
My plans were to give them each $25 and take them shopping for toys to donate. Or I thought that I could have them fill out a card or draw a picture and I include a check to an organization on their behalf. I thought about the micro-loan programs like Kiva -- does anyone have any experience with that?
I would LOVE to have something that will give me feedback that I can share with the kids so they know how they impacted a child/family. I want to encourage them to empathize, to be less selfish, and to start thinking about other people around them.
I really appreciate any ideas you can help me come up with!
P.S. For what it's worth, they are in Central Pennsylvania.
P.P. S. I am looking for non-religious programs because I think it is important that they give to anyone at any time without proselytizing -- no offense intended, I would simply like to keep it religious-less.