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Multi-spinoff - Gifts, a sign our culture is "sick"? - Page 12

post #221 of 255
I think the marketing of infant formulas in 3rd world countries is an example of evil marketing as well.

So really, noone has any thoughts on the Samaritan's purse boxes?

Tjej
post #222 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
I agree that marketing is a factor but other cultures have had elaborate gift-giving practices waaaaay before marketing, like the potlach tradition in some first nations cultures: http://www.kwakiutl.bc.ca/culture/potlatch.htm
True, but I'm guessing that the gifts given at a traditional Potlach were at least things the recipients could/can use.
post #223 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by sewchris2642 View Post
But that isn't an etiquette rule. It has become expected but it's not a rule. And that's why according to etiquette you can't dictate gifts on the invitation or ask for money. But people do. People exceed the speed limit as well. But it's still wrong. And etiquette is all about culture. That's why eating with the fingers and burping is polite etiquette in the Middle East and smacking one's lips is polite etiquette in the Far East. In some cultures, everyone eats from the same common bowl. In Muslim countries, you only eat with the right hand. And men don't shake hands with women. Etiquette defines a culture. The problem in the US, is that we are so diverse that we don't have one common culture. Our etiquette rules are from northern Europe but our citizens come from all over the world. And we are in the process of creating our own. Which brings me back to your point. So we do agree. Where we differ, I think, is that while I don't feel obligated to perpetuate the imported rules, many posting on this thread do.
I don't perpetuate those rules, either.

The point I was making (and also apparently not doing so very well) is that the question of the rule itself is part of what the OP was addressing. It's not something tangential to the discussion about how to handle the overload of gifts. It's part of the issue with handling it, and part of her comments/questions about our culture being sick.

This might not be an actual rule, but it is one that's pushed by Miss Manners. I don't mean there's a rule that people can't talk about gifts at all. I refer to the "rule" that one must not behave in any fashion that suggests they're expecting a gift. This precludes suggesting limits or requesting no gift or anything of that sort. It does seem to contribute to a lot of the gifting issues that people have.


I'm not sure I agree with you about the timing of the discussion, either. It sounds good. It should be the way to handle it. But, family dynamics can be very complicated. For many people, there does come a time where they're trying to choose between putting up with excessive gift exchanges and losing their relationship with people. I also don't think that saying "we're going to X's house this year, and we told you that in January" is going to stop a determined gift giver. What happens when they show up at your house, while your kids are home, with the whole stack in hand?


ETA: I do agree that we're in agreement on a lot of this stuff. But, I have a mostly functional family, with just enough experience with dysfunctional members to be able to imagine what it would be like to deal with a lot of them. *shudder*
post #224 of 255
Here's the Miss Manners Q&A

Quote:
Dear Miss Manners,
Is it ever appropriate to request fewer presents at Christmas? It is becoming more and more frustrating at how many presents my mother-in-law showers upon our son. And now that we have a daughter too, I am afraid of coming home with a lot more stuff that never gets touched. She never includes gift receipts and I feel it is rude to ask for them. Instead we wind up giving them away to day cares or churches that have toy drives. Should we simply continue the giving away or could we ever ask the poor woman to decrease spending her husband's hard earned money?

Gentle Reader,
The polite approach would be to praise her generosity and then muse that you worry that the children are so overwhelmed that they can't really appreciate it. Miss Manners would think it easier, however, to be silently grateful that your mother-in-law's generosity enables you to benefit needier children.

Here's the link:
http://lifestyle.msn.com/relationshi...entid=15946909

She answers a question about requesting certain gifts at the end, too.
post #225 of 255
Thread Starter 
Hi all! I have not had much chance to respond but have been reading on a daily basis. Lots of good points still trickling in. I cannot respond to each one but will say Storm Bride is right on with what my motivations were for starting the thread and with her explanations of why things are not always simple. Even in our relatively "functional" family, there are all sorts of reasons why there is no simple solution. I have been reading Sewchris's responses. Her perspective, along with others further upstream, suggest that it is simple for some families. A discussion or change of travel plans can help minimize gift issues. I wish this were always the case. Simple communication is simply not effective for some people.

In evaluating my own family, there are several factors in play. We do mix up our travel, event, and visiting plans each year. Physically being there does not have any effect on the number of gifts we receive. Without exception, each person who gives us gifts for holidays and birthdays will send them if we are not going to see them.

My dh and I have been married for 12.5 years. We have been talking about our lifestyle choices since day one. The gift issue has been a topic of conversation far before we had a child. As I mentioned in the OP, we have gone against the etiquette "rules" and have heartily attempted to make it known that gift giving (in our case, specifically size and quantity) has a very real negative effect in our house. We have attempted, with limited success, to make some "rules" about the numbers and size. I have been trying to figure out why the message is not getting through. Because we are working with a large group of people with differing ages, lifestyles, locations, histories, and relationships (to us), I believe the reasons the communication is not effective vary widely and includes:

1. Simply not caring and feeling that gift giving is more about the giver than the receiver.
2. Not understanding how or why too many gifts could ever be a problem.
3. Not believing the message applies to them...."Surely since I am the only great-aunt on this side of the family, the rule does not apply to ME."
4. Believing that the lifestyle choices my dh have made are "depriving" our dd.
5. Not having been to our house so not having seen the real impact.
6. Not understanding or being able to hear what we mean (this is common among the our dear elderly relatives).
7. Not having any other children to shop for and therefore not being able to "help themselves".
8. Buying into the marketing and commercialization.
9. Spitefulness (rare in our family but is a small issue).
10. Believe we are saying it to be polite ala "your presence is present enough" and do not really mean it.

I am sure there are others and each one requires a different discussion. We could start talking on December 26 and not stop until the following year and still not have gotten to a point where there could be a real change. I am AMAZED and grateful that despite our very diverse family and friend circle that we do not have bigger issues.....as in no one is buying dd guns, violent video games, or other toys that are in direct and serious conflict with our values.

I was not aiming or hoping to solve our immediate problems by starting this thread. It just got me very curious as to how we got into this mess and how we as a culture could address this so that it will not continue to spiral out of control. Dh and I jokingly suggested that grandma buy dd a storage unit rental for Christmas. Or perhaps a new and BIGGER house. That's the answer!

I am hoping this discussion will continue. I am back from my trip and able to be more present here.

For anyone following this thread closely and that is STILL not getting enough, I am going to start another spin-off in TAO. More fun about gifting and who it should really "be about", personal ethics, and family harmony. It would be off topic in this thread and does not specifically apply to parenting, so that is why I am not starting it here. I hope to see some of you there
post #226 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjej View Post
So really, noone has any thoughts on the Samaritan's purse boxes?
It's a great idea! (We do other things through non-religious organizations but I think that looks like a wonderful organization.)
post #227 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
We have attempted, with limited success, to make some "rules" about the numbers and size. I have been trying to figure out why the message is not getting through.
Yooper, I am willing to bet that if you set a simple, clear, numerical limit *and enforce it*, the message will be much more likely to get through.

We didn't actually have to follow through on enforcement, but we were willing to, and I think that's part of how setting limits worked for us. I.e., we were willing to say, flat out, that we would be opening three gifts, and any gifts beyond that we would be taking directly to a donation point, unopened.

FWIW, we finally got to this point after going to family therapy (for this issue among others) and the therapist telling me (in private) that the relatives I was dealing with were sort of stuck at the emotional maturity of a three year old. That was a huge light bulb moment for me -- if I had limits, I had to be willing to follow through on enforcing them. I couldn't expect the relatives in question to make it easy for me; they didn't even recognize that my limits truly existed.
post #228 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
I believe the reasons the communication is not effective vary widely and includes:

1. Simply not caring and feeling that gift giving is more about the giver than the receiver.
2. Not understanding how or why too many gifts could ever be a problem.
3. Not believing the message applies to them...."Surely since I am the only great-aunt on this side of the family, the rule does not apply to ME."
4. Believing that the lifestyle choices my dh have made are "depriving" our dd.
5. Not having been to our house so not having seen the real impact.
6. Not understanding or being able to hear what we mean (this is common among the our dear elderly relatives).
7. Not having any other children to shop for and therefore not being able to "help themselves".
8. Buying into the marketing and commercialization.
9. Spitefulness (rare in our family but is a small issue).
10. Believe we are saying it to be polite a la "your presence is present enough" and do not really mean it.
My guess is that primary among these is a combination of 1 and 10. They do not take you seriously, you don't have authority in their minds, yet.
post #229 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by dantesmama View Post
Yes, of course I talk about it with them, but they're only 2 and 4 and I wouldn't even expect them to remember who bought gift #8 as opposed to gift #24 as opposed to gift #50. We have a massive extended family (mostly ILs) and my kids are the only young children in our "branch" of the family, so people jump at the opportunity to shop for toys again. My 4yo will remember who gave him a few favorites but honestly, even I have trouble keeping it all straight. We return/donate/give away a good portion of their gifts right off the bat because of the sheer volume.
I have the same problem... except *I* am being piled with as many gifts as the kids, and I can't possibly keep track of all of what they got (often times I'm not even told who it's from or even which child received it), as well as all the things I received myself. It makes me extremely uncomfortable when after the "gift orgy" (which, honestly, is what it feels like), I have no idea who got what, I didn't get to see what anyone else opened, really, because I was piled high with things and also trying to keep track of my children's things, and so on. I just feel like it doesn't give *me* the opportunity to be grateful for the gifts, and makes me feel more like people are just dumping stuff on me. Did I mention that I'm easily overwhelmed? Add that to the sheer vast numbers of gifts and it's just beyond overwhelming. I mean, seriously, DD's first christmas - back when she was the ONLY grandchild, there were 8 adults plus DD there for christmas and you could BARELY walk around the pile of gifts to sit on the couches in the fairly average sized living room. I mean, I just can't imagine that *anyone* could keep track of all those things coming at them in such a short time.

As I said, it makes me uncomfortable that *I* am not able to be grateful for what I received, let alone keep track of and remind my children what they received from whom. It seriously makes me cry every year - it just feels yucky to me. AND this is only from one branch of the family - my in-laws, then we have two other (generally smaller) christmases to attend, and thus more gifts to dig through, but they're generally more do-able and less of an insane gift-orgy.
post #230 of 255
I don't have answers but you can take what you will from my annual Thanksgiving 'discussion' with my husband's family.
Every Thanksgiving, his father's side of the family sits down to discuss Christmas gifts.
Every year, I leave the table knowing my ideas and the resulting decision will differ.
This year, I tried to make an effort hoping economy, older children, etc would hopefully bring some open minded folks out.
I was wrong.
Ok, I had 3 people, agree with me. That's a step up.

The simple fact is my husband's father's side love to give gifts, ridiculous, frivolous gifts. Who needs a jar full of candy canes? Who needs a 6 foot nutcracker?

Anyway, this year, I suggested that all names be placed in the hat along with their preferred charity and the kris kringle donate $25 to that charity.

Well, I was the scrooge in the discussion and in the end, they put everyone in a hat and suggested we spend $50 for our kris kringle (no gift certificates, please).

I'm just so done with this needless amassing of 'stuff'. When their are folks simply needing coats or clothes for their kids to go in school in, I'm going to be spending a Christmas night surrounded by 30+ folks all exchanging ridiculous gifts.

Now, don't get me wrong, I buy gifts for folks and what not. I love getting gifts but at this point in my life, my gift is my family, the roof over my head and being able to share and spend time with my friends and family. Unfortunately, this can't be wrapped up or sold in mass quantities at 'door busting' prices.
post #231 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
When we invite classmates to b-day parties, I'd much rather have the kids come without a gift than just not come because they can't bring a gift for whatever reason. Just come and help the birthday kid celebrate the day!
Sure. But when Dylan can't tell me the birthday kid's name or anything about him/her, I took than into consideration when accepting the invitation for him. Now that he's 11 and in 6th grade, he makes the decision. I have found that, in the younger grades, frequently the birthday kid's parents just invited the whole class to the party instead of the few students that their child actually play with. In part, probably, because the friends aren't seen outside of school and the invitations are handed out during school hours or right after school as the kids leave. Dylan didn't do well at those kinds of parties. Way to overwhelming for him so I declined most of those invitations. Unless he really knew the kid beyond that he sat in the same class.
post #232 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by prothyraia View Post
While I agree that the responsibility for buying or not buying something is our own, I do think marketing to children is pretty close to evil. Marketing is the intentional manipulation of another person by playing to their vulnerabilities, insecurities, and desires in order to get them to do something that benefits the marketer. And children aren't developmentally able to understand and think about these messages the way adults can.

Someone trying to psychologically manipulate my children's emotions, values, identity, and feelings of self worth in order to make money for themselves? Using people (children!) as a means for your own benefit without regard for their well being? Evil.
But why should they? That's the parents job. Parents need to cultivate the art of saying NO and mean it. Turn off the TV, only watch DVDs. Discuss why you aren't going to buy that toy. Discuss how commercials work and the magic of film editing. When shopping examine clothes and how they are made. Talk about the image the clothes (and fashion dolls) are portraying. Instead of arbitrarily banning certain items (thereby making them even more desirable), talk about why your family doesn't have/want them.
post #233 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjej View Post

So really, noone has any thoughts on the Samaritan's purse boxes?

Tjej
I haven't heard of them. We save up change to drop into the Salvation Army's red kettles every year. We buy toys for Toys for Tots campaigns, donate food items into the barrels. Pay for library fines with food stuffs. The weeks between Halloween and Christmas (and beyond) are filled with examples of our family giving as well as dreaming about getting.
post #234 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by sewchris2642 View Post
But why should they? That's the parents job. Parents need to cultivate the art of saying NO and mean it. Turn off the TV, only watch DVDs. Discuss why you aren't going to buy that toy. Discuss how commercials work and the magic of film editing. When shopping examine clothes and how they are made. Talk about the image the clothes (and fashion dolls) are portraying. Instead of arbitrarily banning certain items (thereby making them even more desirable), talk about why your family doesn't have/want them.
Um, duh. Any thoughtful parent does that.

The fact that we can cope with aggressive marketing doesn't mean we should have to. And I would recommend you do a little reading about how marketing works. Techniques that play on cognitive and affective biases cannot all be counteracted through discussion.

Also note that different cultures have different views on this. For example, where I live, there are much stricter rules about pharmaceutical marketing, and, as a result, there is less inappropriate use of pharmaceuticals. The typical American, "every family for themselves, and to heck with the societal consequences," approach is not the only way to go, you know. So it isn't unreasonable for people to think about how a different approach to corporate responsibility might be better overall.
post #235 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by sewchris2642 View Post
But why should they? That's the parents job. Parents need to cultivate the art of saying NO and mean it. Turn off the TV, only watch DVDs. Discuss why you aren't going to buy that toy. Discuss how commercials work and the magic of film editing. When shopping examine clothes and how they are made. Talk about the image the clothes (and fashion dolls) are portraying. Instead of arbitrarily banning certain items (thereby making them even more desirable), talk about why your family doesn't have/want them.
Well, yeah, of course parents should do that. And they should teach their children how to avoid sexual predators, and how to respond to racism and sexism, and how to react to all the other evils of the world.

That doesn't change the fact that trying to make people feel bad so that they'll do something you want them to is wrong. Yes, it's my job to do my best to protect my children from people that mean them harm, but that doesn't mean that it's crazy to suggest that people should, you know, not try to manipulate children in ways that are harmful. It's everyone's "job" to be a morally responsible human being.
post #236 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~pi View Post

Also note that different cultures have different views on this. For example, where I live, there are much stricter rules about pharmaceutical marketing, and, as a result, there is less inappropriate use of pharmaceuticals. The typical American, "every family for themselves, and to heck with the societal consequences," approach is not the only way to go, you know. So it isn't unreasonable for people to think about how a different approach to corporate responsibility might be better overall.
And that's why voting is important.
post #237 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by prothyraia View Post
Well, yeah, of course parents should do that. And they should teach their children how to avoid sexual predators, and how to respond to racism and sexism, and how to react to all the other evils of the world.

That doesn't change the fact that trying to make people feel bad so that they'll do something you want them to is wrong. Yes, it's my job to do my best to protect my children from people that mean them harm, but that doesn't mean that it's crazy to suggest that people should, you know, not try to manipulate children in ways that are harmful. It's everyone's "job" to be a morally responsible human being.
I never said that it wasn't wrong. You can't control or change other people. But you can change how you deal with them. You can remove your family from them. Yes, there will be repercussions and consequences. Only the parents can decide if their decision is worth that. But if they chose to continue the 3 event holiday and their child's meltdowns, then they need to realize that they are responsible for their part in it. In the long run, my child's well-being is more important than the feelings of the extended family.
post #238 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by sewchris2642 View Post
And that's why voting is important.
What a strange response. Do you mean to be implying that people should not talk, care or have feelings about this issue, while simultaneously making sure to vote accordingly?

Or are you trying to make some sort of reference to the pathetically low voter turnout in the US?
post #239 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~pi View Post
What a strange response. Do you mean to be implying that people should not talk, care or have feelings about this issue, while simultaneously making sure to vote accordingly?

Or are you trying to make some sort of reference to the pathetically low voter turnout in the US?
There are many ways of voting. You (general you) don't like the way companies market their goods, tell them why you aren't buying their products. Vote with your pocket book. Don't watch the channels/shows that carry the commercials. Don't shop at stores that participate in questionable business practices. On the other hand, write to and support companies that do. And, yes, sign petitions and vote at the polls. Write to your government officials and tell them what you want. Tell them what they are doing right as well as what they are doing wrong. It's easy to sit at home and complain about stuff. But that doesn't change anything. Doing something might not change it all at once either. But over time it can if enough people want it.
post #240 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by sewchris2642 View Post
But why should they? That's the parents job. Parents need to cultivate the art of saying NO and mean it. Turn off the TV, only watch DVDs. Discuss why you aren't going to buy that toy. Discuss how commercials work and the magic of film editing. When shopping examine clothes and how they are made. Talk about the image the clothes (and fashion dolls) are portraying. Instead of arbitrarily banning certain items (thereby making them even more desirable), talk about why your family doesn't have/want them.
I agree. I often sit here like this: when I read threads about how [insert external evil atrocity here] is doing irreparable harm. Or could. Or might. As if a toy, or a TV, or a billboard, or a store, would have a greater impact on how my kid turns out than, say, her parents. And her family. And her upbringing. And our family values. That's not to say that some marketing isn't slimy in its approach, I think it can be. But there isn't a doubt in my mind that OUR (my husband and all of our family) will have a greater influence on her and the person she'll grow up to be. Knowing that gives me great comfort when she wants to be brainwashed by the Backyardagains for 30 minutes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sewchris2642 View Post
I never said that it wasn't wrong. You can't control or change other people. But you can change how you deal with them. You can remove your family from them. Yes, there will be repercussions and consequences. Only the parents can decide if their decision is worth that. But if they chose to continue the 3 event holiday and their child's meltdowns, then they need to realize that they are responsible for their part in it. In the long run, my child's well-being is more important than the feelings of the extended family.
YES!! A lot of people in this thread are talking about imposing rules, enforcing them, even going to THERAPY over the way their family treats them, then they complain their kid has a meltdown because they GO to these events every year, and that the idea that uh, not going, to a place where you are not respected or even heard in some cases, is completely out of the question.

Self, inflicted.
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