By Carolyn Tomlin
Grandparents Who Overspend at Christmas
Like most young children, 6-year-old “Ashley” couldn’t wait until Christmas. And who could blame the child? Television commercials blasted out the latest toys that every good little boy and girl was sure to want.
In addition to gifts from Mom and Dad, there were presents from Grandma and Pop. Big ones! Last year, the grandparents provided an elaborate tree house complete with electricity. The Christmas before, it was an above-the-ground swimming pool. And between the holidays, birthdays, and special occasions, there were gifts and more gifts!
“This has to stop,” said her mom. “But we don’t want to hurt their feelings. And of course, we’re so glad they love our daughter that much.”
How can parents handle the extravagant gifts showered on their children by grandparents? “It’s too much, too soon,” remarked a young father. “And imagine how our youngsters feel when we have to take away the expensive item? Or, try to explain to the grandparents we don’t have room for a swimming pool in the back yard?
What’s the best solution to allowing grandparents to being involved in their grandchildren’s lives without going overboard? Can this be done and still maintain your parental authority? Look at some ideas being used by Christian families today.
Grandparent Gifts That Make a Difference
• Give music lessons. Between the house payment, the family car, insurance (health, auto, house), food, utilities, clothing and extra expense that seems to always appear, many children to not have the opportunity for music lessons. Research shows that children who learn to play a musical instrument score higher on math and science tests. Long after the paper and ribbons are gone, lessons and a musical instrument could add a lifetime of enjoyment.
Depending on the age of the child, investing in a musical instrument could be a gift that keeps on giving.
• Schedule a train ride. Seated in a passenger car with a grandchild, watching the beautiful world God created is one of the pleasures of being a grandparent. Here, you have opportunities to talk without the interruption of TV or video games. Prior to the trip, map your area of travel and talk about the historical sites along the way.
Give the child a choice of tours available on the trip. Instead of saying, “What would you like do to?” Say, “We can visit a farm or zoo? What’s your choice?”
• Cruise the inland waterways. Purchase tickets for a steamboat river ride on one of the majestic paddle wheelers that make their way up and down the Mississippi, the Ohio, or the Tennessee River. Often you can find two-for-one specials.
Schedule a visit with the captain and make a photo. This could lead to a classroom discussion or school report.
• Invest in camping equipment. Purchase basic camping supplies, including a tent (one that’s easy to assemble), portable grill, cooking supplies, and sleeping bags. Tell the story in 1 Samuel 16:11 of how the shepherd boy David must have watched the stars in the night sky as he cared for his father’s sheep.
• Sign up for a library card. Research shows that children who read books develop an appreciation of literature and reading becomes a priority in life. Reading is the foundation of being a success in school. Enroll the child in a book-a-month club where they help make selections.
• Invest in the child’s future with a saving bond. By the time the child is ready to start college, this investment could make a difference in their future.
Christmas is more than expensive gifts. Giving of yourself and time means so much more to children. Parents, talk with the child’s grandparents. Help them realize that you appreciate their love for the child and want the best for everyone.
Carolyn Tomlin teaches the Boot Camp for Christian Writers. She contributes to numerous magazines and newspapers. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.