Childrearing

‘My [email protected]#king Parents Didn’t Get Me An iPad For Christmas!’

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That’s what someone on Twitter said just hours after their parents showered them with Christmas gifts. You can see tons of other examples of the snottiness that parenting failures result in on this BuzzFeed listing of “People Who Didn’t Get What They Wanted For Christmas.” It’s not pretty.

I first got a taste of ungrateful children at Christmas many years ago when visiting some friends. Their kids were actually adorable for the days leading up to Christmas but when it came time to open Christmas gifts, it looked like a pride of lions tearing into a gazelle. They didn’t pause between ripping open gift after gift — missing key components of each package — and completely failed to thank anyone. I vowed I would not raise ungrateful children.

Now, this is easier — much easier — said than done. A few months ago, for instance, my unbelievably generous in-laws arrived with multiple suitcases full of goodies for our children. They unzipped them and told the girls to have at it, and they — the in-laws — squealed with delight and cheered our oldest on as she tore through the gifts without pausing. Now, it’s true that I grew up poor and the sight of a large suitcase packed to the brim with toys, trinkets, clothing and other stuff is something I’m not used to. But even if I were accustomed to such largesse, I’m pretty sure I would still be uncomfortable.

My response to the gift-devouring frenzy I was witness to still makes me laugh. I was so freaked out that I started saying “Her character! Her character!” As in, “I think you may be harming my children’s character right now please stop I beg of you and let’s bring things down a notch thank you very much.”

This year we are having Christmas alone and we’ve been able to institute house rules on gift opening. For one thing, we spread the gifts out throughout the 12 days of Christmas. For another, we only open one gift at a time and we appreciate each one before moving on to the next one. I ask our children to save any gift wrapping materials that are salvageable and to toss the trash immediately. We’re writing thank you cards as we go along. And if they’re not appreciative of something, we take it as a sign that maybe they need to go to bed. Last night one of our daughters, who claimed to want to open more gifts, started throwing a tantrum over a gift she didn’t like (a totally awesome pint-sized kimono from Grandma, I might add). So we called it a night.

Even though I grew up with parents who chose low-paying careers, we always had amazing Christmases with tons of gifts. But my mother told us stories that really made us appreciate how much we got. The first year her family moved from Missouri to Colorado, her dad didn’t have much money to spend on gifts. She got a slinky and an orange. And that’s it. And her little brother Russell accidentally broke the Slinky the same day.

Can you even imagine saying to a mother who had this experience anything approaching the Twitter-snottiness seen above? Ha! And again I say Ha!

I have no doubt that whatever else my children suffer from as we hit the teen years (and I’m already preparing for an epic payback for whatever I put my folks through), they would not be so foolish as to trash talk what they got for Christmas. Who raises these annoying ingrates?

Image via Thinkstock.