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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

Not the typical gift
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TAGS: Boundaries, Differences, Encouragement, Parenting, Rewards

Not the Typical Gifts for Our Kids

Elizabeth Murphy, Ed.D.
ELIZABETH MURPHY, Ed.D., is a psychologist and type expert whose research focuses on verifying the development of normal personality differences according to the theory of psychological type. She works extensively with families and teams of people to improve communication and resolve relationship needs.
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Selecting a gift for those under the age of 5 is pure joy.  They like almost everything.  From that age on it is a challenge and by adulthood gift giving is like climbing Mt. Everest.

One gift for a new parent that seems ideal to me is the Night Nanny.  New parents get no sleep.  Prince William said when he heard of the birth of Prince Harry's son that he was "...pleased to welcome Prince Harry to the Sleep Deprivation Society of Parenting."

Night Nannies can help with that.  These nannies are terribly expensive, so this becomes a role for family, friends, and trusted others.  The Night Nanny is not coming to visit so there is no need to clean, to feed them, or to act as a host.  This person arrives when the parents are ready to go to bed.  This person feeds, changes, and attends to the baby all night so the parents can get a full night's rest.  When the family awakens to begin their day the Night Nanny leaves so there is no lingering.  I cannot think of a better gift to give once a month or every other week to parents with a newborn.  

A gift that grandparents can give that parents cannot is dedicated time and attention.  I was visiting and observed a grandfather sitting at a table with a three-year-old for over an hour.  I wondered what they were doing and saw that he was playing picture memory matches with her.  He must have played over 100 games and was smiling and enjoying the child who loved repeating the game over and over.  (Sensing children seem to do this more than Intuitive children.) I thought he earned "Grandparent of the Year" for that experience.


Another grandparent took the grandkids to Walmart.  Each had $10 to spend.  The gift was they could "shop" for as long as they want.  There was no time limit.  When they decided what they wanted they would pay for the purchase or keep their money and then everyone would go out for a meal together.  Usually, the parents said something like, "You have 5 minutes.  Hurry up and decide."  The grandparent had no time limit.  They could take forever to decide.  The temptation of the meal after shopping was to motivate closure but it is amazing how long children can explore toy shelves.

Another grandparent gift is to take the children places the parents are less likely to explore with them.  We went to the US Mint, the Dr. Pepper museum and did the treasure hunt there, watched how to make stained glass (and made dad a Father's Day mug), went to the airport park to watch planes take off and land using binoculars, and even went to Chucky Cheese.  Most of these are a once-in-a-lifetime adventure because you only need to do them once.

Grandma Camp or Grandpa Camp was always a favorite.  This can be a day camp or an overnight camp or a week-long camp.  The children move in with the grandparent and together they develop the activities for the week.  Parents are not involved and get a chance to miss their children who are being well-cared for and loved by others.

When the grandchildren are little it is much easier.  As they age the role of the grandparent switches from entertaining the child to attending events to watch the child play soccer, play tennis, run, perform musically, artistically, etc.  These are moments of pride and fun but not really a gift.  So, what do you give the parent of the older child?

My best guess is you give them the gift of respecting their way of rearing their children even if you have other ways you think are better.  They may have rules you would not set or no rules when you would set them.  They may choose different food habits or sleep habits than you chose for them when they were little.  Your expectations of the parent and the child may send an indirect message of judgment or criticism.  Acknowledge that you would have chosen differently but also acknowledge it is their turn to parent and they get to make the choices.  Offer interesting information when you find it.  Step in when you think something is hurting the child or the parent.  Most of the time that is not the case.  When there is no harm being done give the gift of respect and allow your child the chance to parent their child.

Gifts are fun to get but more fun to give.  The age of the recipient only dictates the way the fun will be experienced, but gift-giving never goes out of style.




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Note: The skill of public expression is different than the skill of participation in a lecture or class presentation.


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