The Family Project: Discussion of appropriate gifts urged
Q. My daughter has children from a previous marriage. She has recently remarried. Her in-laws are buying expensive and not necessarily age-appropriate gifts for the grandchildren on birthdays and holidays. I don’t want to get into a spending war with them, but ’m not sure how to handle this. I don’t want to become the cheap grandparent.
The first question asked by the panel was: “What does the daughter feel about this situation?” It may not bother her and-or she may not be aware that it bothers her parents.
“This can be a stressful situation,” panelist Pam Wallace said, suggesting that the parents talk to their daughter about their concerns.
One goal of the conversation could be for the daughter and her new husband to discuss recommendations with both sets of grandparents for gifts for the children. “They may also want to put a limit on the number of gifts since kids tend to think in terms of how many gifts they get,” Wallace added.
“The second part of this is not just the amount and cost of gifts, but their appropriateness,” panelist Chad Stefanyak said. “I think the daughter and her new husband need to have a discussion about at what age they want their children have what gifts.
“For example, they may have opinions about a particular video game that they think is too violent, or at what age they want their children to have their own cell phones or laptops,” said Stefanyak.
Panelist Denise Continenza said it’s definitely a conversation that has to be had before opening packages on Christmas morning. It could be made easier, she said, by creating a gift list before birthdays and holidays.
Another way of handling the problem, panelist Vince Confalone said, would be for the daughter’s parents to concentrate on creating memories and traditions with the grandchildren. These are the best gifts grandparents can give, whether it’s making a particular meal, or eating a special cookie or watching a favorite movie every year for the holidays.
“Don’t get into a buying war,” Confalone urged, “Fight with traditions and you won’t be in a sprint, you’ll be in a marathon.”
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor; Denise Continenza, extension educator, and Vince Confalone, Valley Youth House, family therapist.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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