Leave room for the grandparents

The other title I wanted to give this article was, What to do when there’s not much your grandchildren don’t have in their toy department. There is something amazing about finding a gift for your grandchild that delights them, is something they don’t have and is the sort of toy or experience that they will get a lot of mileage out of. This is not always an easy thing to do.

Without sounding preachy, as I talk to friends and colleagues who are grandparents or relatives, there is a sense that it has gotten harder to buy something special for the younger members in the family. It may just be that this toy or experience has already been done or that there is such an overwhelming amount of toys that a new one doesn’t feel special or noticed.

One beautiful trait to develop in children is the gift of gratitude and appreciation, and alongside that – the ability to be able to wait for something good. This delayed gratification has been shown to be very good to develop in children and will add to their lives in the future.

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Parents are bombarded with pressure to buy stuff for their children from the right cereal to the proper label on the jeans. Buying things also feels a very loving and kind thing to do. It’s getting the balance right and very often grandparents feel that is hard to get a gift that will be needed and appreciated.

So if I had a wishlist for parents around the purchase of toys, I might ask them to do a few of these things –
  • Please give grandparents and friends a chance to shine with an item that you could have purchased but have left a gap for them.
  • When children ask for things, let them know that some things are saved up for. Delay getting lots of little bits and pieces and help children become discerning about what is a good toy.
  • Purchase toys that will last and can be handed down.
  • Some families are really happy to receive a toy from a secondhand shop. This is a great way to teach children to consider the impact of their footprint and to cherish a pre-loved item.
  • Children learn to value things by looking after them. If they break something, they could help fix it, or they could save up for a replacement. If you replace immediately, they are not going to learn to value things as much.
  • Teach children to show appreciation when they receive a gift. This will never go out of fashion. It could be the phone call, the text, the email or the handwritten card. Make this part of the family ritual.
Alternatively, this is the wishlist that the parents might have for the grandparents or friends –
  • Before buying something, check in with the parents as to what might be needed or loved.
  • It is not necessary to indulge children with things. A grandparent’s time and patience are invaluable. Teaching a skill like baking, knitting, sewing, gardening, playing chess, or making a craft are experiences that money cannot buy.
  • Check what fits with the family values and time line. Aligning with this is a great way to show support.
  • Theirs is nearly always a place for a new book.

So parents and grandparents, there’s a great invitation here to work together and talk about giving and how you can be a team and navigate this tricky territory.

“Jenny and I were talking about present ideas for grandparents. I told her about the blankets my mum is knitting for each ​of my kids. The two kids who have had birthdays this year and received them love them. The other two have birthdays in August and can’t wait for their own homemade blanket too. This is Josh and his beloved blanket.” Karlee Rippey




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