mom fun

STFU Parents: This Holiday Season, Don’t Brag Online About Spoiling Your Kids

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A couple of weeks ago, the blog post ‘Why My Husband And I Cancelled Christmas’ went viral. The premise of the post, to me, seemed pretty predictable: Parents of three young boys, who have been acting especially entitled lately, have decided to focus on giving to others this holiday rather than giving to their children. But sometimes it’s the simplest concepts that blow people’s minds. Several major news outlets and thousands of social media posts have zeroed in on this blog post, debating and discussing and praising and holding it up as an example to others. On the surface, it may seem like an extraordinary amount of attention to heap on an individual post. I mean, how difficult can this “canceling Christmas” concept be? But based on the reactions, it appears the post is popular because it’s unfathomably progressive. Many impressed parents have said, “Wow, what a great idea. I could never do this with MY kids, but good for these parents!” At the heart of the matter, what’s being said, or at least what’s understood, is that most parents have moved beyond a place where canceling Christmas is even within the realm of possibility. It just wouldn’t happen.

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In this era of competitive parenting and helicopter parenting and snow plow parenting and trampoline parenting (okay I made that up), kids have come to expect a certain amount of “stuff” from their parents. Some parents are eager to please — or giving in to their children’s constant desires is just easier than saying no — which results in kids having a few stores’ worth of toys and technologies starting at a young age. And while I’m sure there are still plenty of parents who know when to curb spending and/or acquiring too much for their kids, there are always those parents who don’t know when enough is enough. They’re proud to spoil their kids, and they use the word “spoiled” like it’s a compliment — a nod to their stellar parenting. They think that people are envious of their lives, or how much they provide for their children, and they rub it in at every opportunity on social media. If it’s a holiday or a birthday, they might say they wanted to include all the gifts from grandparents, friends, and other relatives in a photo as a way to honor the gift givers (or something), but we all know what those parents are really communicating, which is a perception of abundance. In America especially, abundance isn’t just a good thing anymore; it’s the BEST thing, the only thing, and STFU, Parents has the submissions to prove it.

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Over the years, I’ve posted pictures of gift stacks so high you couldn’t find the baby (or babies) who’d received them in the picture. I once posted a picture from Easter that featured a terrifying army of oversized chocolate bunnies that I didn’t even know existed. And two Christmases ago, I posted a picture of this gift vortex that a parent lovingly called “the aftermath,” because a veritable explosion of gifts for a toddler is now totally normal. Some readers pointed out that if parents wants to spoil their children, that’s their business, and there are some people for whom spoiling children is such a pleasure, they truly don’t care what others think. But if it’s posted on Facebook, it’s a pretty showy way of conveying a message. And I think what the ‘Cancelled Christmas’ blog post did was remind people that it’s normal not to shower kids with dozens and dozens of gifts on Christmas, or any holiday for that matter. That shouldn’t be such a novel concept, but it is. So for today’s column, let’s take a minute to remember that whether or not you spoil your kids (or nieces/nephews, godchildren, etc.), there’s no reason to flaunt it online. Don’t brag about the stuff you bought; just enjoy what you already have. You don’t have to cancel Christmas to save face on Facebook. It’s the least you can do.

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