The best gifts at Christmas (and the whole year through)

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Kids these days are a very fortunate lot. They are almost never in want for anything as their parents try to provide them with the best they possibly can, be it in presents or presence, and our generation now have different parenting styles than our ancestors from a few decades ago. We give our kids due respect, treat them like little adults, and allow them to sate their curiosity by engaging them in conversations. Gone are the days when children are ‘seen but not heard’, these days – their opinions matter, and they are instead taught to be adaptable to situations instead of being made to feel that their words only carry weight when they are older.

As parents, very often we have to be the ‘bad guys’ amongst the grandparents who are always ready and willing to give in to the kids’ whims and fancy by saying ‘No’ to requests and disciplining them. It is much much easier to simply give in, but we must always remember that grandparents and relatives are not responsible as to how our kids turn out in the future. It is not their duty to educate and steer them in the right direction, because that’s what us parents are responsible for. It is up to us to teach them right and wrong, to deal with life, and to shape their characters.

With the changing face of society, it is only natural that there are also bad things which come along with the good. The Entitlement Mentality, for one – whereby kids grow up thinking that they are ‘entitled’ to what they want, when they want it. Just because their friend has a certain toy or latest gadget, many take it as a given that they should also have one. Doting grandparents and relatives in this instance do not help matters, especially since with the decrease in the number of children produced per family, there are fewer (and thus, more precious) descendants to dote upon.

Christmas time is the season for gifting. Caden has enough toys to open his own toy store, and although we curb our random gifting to him, he has a lot of grandaunts, granduncles, grandparents, Aunts and Uncles to help him add on to his collection. The (very sly) boy also knows how to make it easy for them to give him a gift or two when they see him, simply by turning on the charms and being overly dramatic in his ‘present acceptance’ antics.

Although I have bought him a present for Christmas, I have made up my mind to give him a few other gifts which no amount of money can ever buy, but will carry more weight than its weight in gold.

This is my List of the Best Gifts I can ever ‘afford’ to give my son this Christmas, and for many more Christmases to come.

1. Acceptance 

"Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It’s about understanding that he is exactly the person he is supposed to be. And that, if you’re lucky, he just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be.” – Joan Ryan

I love Caden the way he is. With all his characteristics, traits, and wonderful and (sometimes) weird ways. Nothing will ever change how I love him, not even when he has differing views or chooses his own path next time. 

2. Attention 

He will always have my undivided attention. There is nothing that cannot wait when my child needs me, and there's nothing that I won't do to make sure that he knows I will always be there to listen to him, even if he were singing his ABCs for the umpteenth time, off key. After all, attention (even negative ones) is a survival need, and not simply done to control or manipulate someone.
3. Creativity 

In whatever he chooses to do, I will allow him room to expand his creativity. I am not about to tell him that pigs should be pink if he decides that they should be purple (perhaps after pinching their snouts?). I will not ask him to colour in an outline of a picture if he would rather draw a distorted Queen (read: Mummy) instead. Creativity in children is spontaneous - I believe that it somehow becomes stifled as we grow older and start to unknowingly, adhere to society's norms.
4. Discipline 

Education is not the key to success. Discipline is. Without discipline, even the best forms of educational tools and avenues will not yield results. I will discipline him as and when is necessary, because knowing him the way I do, he needs to constantly be steered in the right direction. It is my gift to him, because even though he may 'hate' me or dislike certain disciplinary measures I impose on him, eventually he will appreciate the tough love. Chances are that would be when he has his own kids to discipline!
5. Encouragement 

As kids try, fail, try again, fail again, and then finally succeed, they develop ideas about their own capabilities. For me, it is important to always encourage him because he needs to know and understand his strengths and weaknesses as well as develop a healthy self esteem in order to be better prepared to handle conflicts.

It's never about being the best. Rather, it's how much effort is made to achieve the results. It's ok to fail, because it is only through failure that we learn how to avoid making mistakes in order to succeed.
6. Faithfulness and Loyalty

Loyalty is dedication to people, or specific things. I feel a need to educate Caden on these because he should be aware and understand how Faithfulness and Loyalty can have positive or negative influences in life. It is important that he knows the difference between being morally upright or simply having blind faith, because there will be numerous instances when this will feature in social interactions.

7. Happiness 

The best Gift I can ever give him is my own happiness, before ensuring that he is happy. Only when I am happy can I yield a positive influence on my child. Children are very sensitive souls. They are able to 'sense' emotions acutely, and often get affected by how the adults around them feel. When I'm happy, I am a better person because it is my sunshine which leads the way.
8. Home 

A Happy Home. A sanctuary from the craziness of the world, safe in the company of loved ones. No matter how old he is, our home is always his - the way that he will always be my son.

9. Honesty 

He will learn to lie to his parents (he's already starting to, albeit innocently now) because we are realistic parents and we were our parents' kids before we had our own. It's important to teach him about the values of honesty, and never make him afraid to tell us the truth. Then there's that thing to teach about when to be honest and when to withhold the truth...

Seriously, this parenting business is hard work!

10. Hugs and more hugs 

I can never stress the importance of giving hugs enough. When was the last time you held your child close to your body for a few moments so that he (and you) feel love without a verbal affirmation? Hugged him so that he feels acceptance, affection and warmth?

It's so much easier to express anger than love. It's way too easy to yell at our kids when they've done something wrong than to show them how much we love them. Hug them as often as you can, and make time to hug. It's a simple thing which can mean so much.

... and among all these, the greatest Gift of all - is:

My earliest memories of childhood aren't about the gifts which I received. They are not about if I had a bigger or better toy than a friend in school. I remember my Mum scolding me for lying. I remember her welcoming me home without any questions asked when things didn't work out between my then boyfriend and I. She made me angry with her for not allowing me to stay out all night at 16 (because that’s wrong on so many levels). Then again, she did not utter an ‘I told you so’ when she was proven right repeatedly.

I remember how I always turn to her whenever I needed to find out things. When I needed problems solved, and when I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. I still do, and sometimes all I need is just to sit there with her. Words are often unnecessary - and whatever it was which was troubling me seem to magically disappear. Perhaps it's about feeling that I've come 'home', every time.

These are the best gifts to give my son this Christmas. They are neither dependent on social norms nor our financial abilities. They are gifts which have been passed down from my ancestors, and will be passed down for generations to come. These 'gifts' we give are the least that we could do, for Caden is our greatest gift in life.

DISCLAIMER: This sponsored post is part of a series of conversations between Lifebuoy and MummyMOO. Lifebuoy is committed to helping and providing a billion people all over the world with a healthier life.

While I was compensated for this post, all thoughts expressed here are completely my beliefs.

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