Mary Soliman, MA, RP
‘Tis the Season of Giving…But When is it Too Much? (Part 2)
Welcome back to the second post in this multi-part series exploring various facets of when giving becomes too much. Last week we started the conversation by highlighting that the most important gift we can give ourselves is self-care. Whether it is in the form of seeking the proper therapeutic tools and actively working on issues, or simply allowing ourselves to take some time to recharge, our behaviours must address our own unique needs. This week we will shift gears and briefly explore an aspect of gift-giving that may seem controversial to some: Extravagant gift giving for children.
Almost every parent I have encountered has expressed in one form or another how they want the best for their children. Providing children with the best upbringing possible involves not only nurturing their bodies, but also their minds. Some parents may feel guilty for not providing what they perceive as “the best of the best” for their children. This may lead to unhealthy over-compensation on the parents’ end, which then may disrupt the children’s essential emotional regulation skills and lay the groundwork for a warped sense of entitlement. A very common example of this would be a parent that spends the majority of their time at work and not enough time with their children. As a result, the parent feels guilty for not being around as much as they would like, and in an attempt to silence that unpleasant feeling within themselves, they over-compensate by purchasing excessive amounts of gifts for their children during the holiday season. Note how the function of the gift giving in this scenario is more so to make the parent feel better, as opposed to addressing the child’s needs.
Children have emotional needs that must be fulfilled in order to lay the foundation of healthy coping and personality traits throughout life. Apart from providing children with the basic physiological needs (food, shelter, rest, warmth, etc.), it is the caregiver’s responsibility to validate children’s feelings and experiences and take a meaningful part in their lives. As a parent, your presence and involvement in your child’s life is the present. Nurturing a strong connection based on empathy, respect, and unconditional love models the types of relationship standards children can expect to generate as they navigate through life.
If you or anyone you know are having trouble coping with the situational stress of the holiday season, you may want to consider seeking talk-therapy to help shed some clarity and introduce tailored coping skills. To continue this conversation, feel free to reach out with any questions, concerns, elaboration requests, or private consultations. Additionally, if there are other topics you would like me to post about in the blog, send me your recommendations. I can be confidentially reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (647) 493-2991. Until then, remember: Your presence is the present. See you next Wednesday!