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Archive for November, 2014

Smart Love Corner: Parenting Q&A

All the questions and answers come directly from Smart Love Solutions in Early Childhood-A Handbook for Parents, Teachers and Caregivers by Drs. Martha Heineman Pieper and William J. Pieper.

Q: Are my kids too materialistic?

This year I was really struck by how important presents were to my kids (ages three and six) at Christmas. It seemed like they were mainly interested in what they were getting, not in the parts of the holiday that matter most to me. We’ve tried to encourage them to get into the story of Christmas, the religious meaning and the beauty and the family togetherness, but they seem to be focused mainly on the presents. I’m sure we’ll encounter the same thing at birthdays and next year at Christmas. Any advice?

A: Like many parents you are frustrated with your children for not acting more grown up. Yet the reality is that they lack the ability to meet your expectations. The reason is that at this point their minds are nothing like the mind of an adult.

It is normal and natural for you children to focus on the fun of getting presents and not be terribly interested in the more abstract meanings of Christmas that are important to you. Their intense interest in gifts does not mean that they will grow up materialistic or unable to appreciate the religious or family significance of Christmas.

It is so important to remember that children are works in progress, and that the way they are at three and six is not a sign of how they will be at twenty-three or twenty-six (or even at thirteen and sixteen). As your children’s minds mature abstractions such as religion or family togetherness will become real and meaningful to them. So, rather than feeling disappointed in your children you can be proud of them for developing normally. Paradoxically, the best way to teach them to appreciate family togetherness and religious values is simply to love and enjoy them; they will copy your caring and compassion and become the adults you are hoping for.

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