Are you a gift-giver? Let me confess that I’m not really. Sometimes, I am left scrambling to recall any vague hint that Laira or the kids gave me of something they wished to receive. I usually end up doing well with gifts for Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays for my family, but it is a mind-racking journey. However, sometimes I have really choked. Gift-giving is not my calling in life.
I have known a few of these people, though. People who show the uncanny ability to search for and find the gift that is just right for the receiver. It is like they have been listening in on personal conversations (or had a clandestine spy operating in deep cover) to discover the secret gift wish of the receiver. When the gift is opened, you can plan on hearing the receiver ask, “How did you know?”
Sometimes we have to work such long, hard hours in order to buy-off our children through a growing number of extravagant gifts; the latest game systems, large screen TVs, the next gen of smart phone, motorized transportation from electric scooters to a “brand new car.”
It is not like we have given our children a stinker of a gift. It cost a bundle. They gladly received it, and put it right to work. But within months, weeks, or even days, the new present has become passe.
Why is that? Have we spoiled our kids by showering them with things? Quite possibly! Is it because our kids are so phenomenally materialistic? Could be! Have we eroded the concept of value by giving them whatever their hearts desire? Maybe, but probably not.
Maybe we have failed to give our kids what their hearts desire, and as a replacement we have given them what we can (or even can’t) afford … but that is just money. So a child quickly becomes conditioned to accept the bribe to replace what they really desire … until their hearts lose the desire for what they really need.
Here is the best gift giving idea I can give you for your children … and the good news is that it usually does not cost you a dime … but it costs something much more precious. Give your children the gift of your time.
As parents, we have so filled our schedule (and the schedules of our children) that we have become estranged to these people living within our homes. They want your time. They long for your attention. Their hearts cry out for any sign that they really mean more to you than all of the other pursuits in which you invest your time.
So put away your phone. Put down the remote control. Call off your appointment at the gym (or take your child with you), and spend some time with your kids.
Read them a story. Talk about the movie they saw over the weekend. Work alongside one another to do something for someone else. Don’t send them off to do their homework. Set down with them and offer your help. Take the time to cook their favorite meal, and have them help you do the cooking. Play games as a family.
But let me warn you: because we have worked so hard to condition our kids to accept the neglect in our time, they may resist spending time together to begin. But as they move into adulthood, you will find that you have given them a treasured gift that impacted them positively long past when the warranty on the latest electronic gadget has expired.