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December 23, 2010

Being Fair: KIWI Magazine Discusses the Problem With Presents

kiwi_december2010-january2011.jpgI’ve made my list, and checked it twice–all in the name of fairness. Even though my kids are young, I want to ensure equality on Christmas morning. I want everyone to have the same amount of stuff. I doubt my kids notice it, but I do. And so do a lot of parents, I think. In the December 2010/January 2011 issue of KIWI magazine, contributor KJ Dell’Antonia writes about her own struggles to find fairness in gift-giving among her four children.

“My kids love to get gifts,” she writes. “But the joy is not always so simple. Lily will never forget the Instax camera I was so thrilled to find last year–for Sam. She, then 5, suddenly wanted it so much more than the CD player she’d asked for, that her Christmas morning ended in tears.”

Dell’Antonia goes on to question what we’re teaching our children if we insist on making all things equal among siblings–to the point where it doesn’t even make sense. A friend of mine is spending $50 on one video game for her first-grader, but does that mean she needs to spend the same amount on her 2-year-old who has no clue? I say no.

But the article’s writer brings up another point: While it’s enough to consider achieving equality among gift-giving when you’re the parents, what do you do about well-intentioned relatives? Dell’Antonia’s example came from a year when a relative gave her 3-year-old boy a car while her 4-year-old daughter got a dress. Needless to say, the 4-year-old wasn’t happy. The author wrote about the possibility of having a back-up gift for the unhappy child, just in case. And just as I was beginning to think I had nothing in common with this mom, she relieved me by saying, “I could have a back-up gift, but how to explain why one child has two presents? Somehow ‘Rory got an extra present because so-and-so’s present was lame’ lacks the proper holiday spirit.”

Instead of making mental calculations of every dollar spent this year, Dell’Antonia has decided to concentrate on dividing her time–rather than cash–evenly among her children. She says that she plans to spend this holiday break building a princess castle with her daughter, and learning to play a video game her son swears she’ll love. After all, that’s all kids really care about anyway. That sounds like a fair solution to me.



About the Author

Shannon McRae
Shannon McRae
Shannon McRae is a work-at-home mom of three young children whose days are spent wiping mouths, playing Candyland, planning dinners and stealing time in between at the computer for her freelance writing. She's a stickler for healthy eating, with a slight exception for Oreos. She lives in Alabama with her precious children, loving husband and 13-year-old Australian Shepherd named Ricky Martin.