Is it gold? Is it diamonds? Is it 5 minutes of peace and quiet?
What is it?
Is it the birth of a child? Or is it the love and innocence of a child?
It is none of the above…..and yet it is ALL of the above.
The Ultimate Gift is the gift you are receiving NOW.
I don’t mean this blog post from me (though that is pretty special). I mean that whatever gift your child is giving you at any particular time….that is the Ultimate Gift.
That gift, at that particular moment is a complete expression of love, appreciation, the desire to please and the greatest symbol of your connection with the deepest thoughts and feelings of your child.
Whatever gift it is, is a symbol of the fact that you are bonded at the ‘heart’ level with this little person and more importantly….they, themselves feel bonded to you.
You know that when it comes to gifts, it is often not about the gift itself. The old saying, ‘It’s the thought that counts’, well the feeling counts too. In fact, the feelings that ‘giving’ provides to the person doing the giving is very important to that person’s self-image.
And when it comes to children, they are the most open-hearted, giving little people on earth. But they don’t stay that way, do they. Few children remain as giving and unconditionally loving as they were when they were infants.
Why is this? Where does that ‘open-heartedness’ go?
I think that as parents it is important that we ask ourselves the following kinds of questions:
- What do I do that encourages my child to be ‘giving’?
- How do I respond when my child does give me a gift?
- Do my child’s gifts have an emotional impact on me?
- How would my child recognize the impact that their gift has had on me?
- What evidence is there of the value I place on the child’s thoughts and feelings, rather than on the gift itself?
Because, actually the gift itself is not the thing that is ‘ultimate’. It’s what it symbolizes….to your child.
As parents, carers and guardians, we need to realize what is going through a child’s mind when they give a gift. What is the child’s motivation and intention? What is the underlying objective of your child, when he/she gives you a gift?
You know the bible says it is more blessed to ‘give’ than to receive. Giving therefore is better for the giver, than it is for the one who is receiving the gift. When I was a child, I could just not fathom that. How could it be that if I gave someone a gift that I would really like to have myself, I am actually the one more blessed? Surely the one with the gift is the one who was blessed?
But giving brings joy to the giver. It also brings a sense that the ‘self’ is a good person and that others appreciate you and you are someone who shows appreciation to others. Giving says we are connected in a special way.
Giving produces the kind of happiness that no-one else can provide for us, we can only feel that way about ourselves and others through the act of ‘giving’.
Another important aspect of maximizing the benefits of ‘giving’ to your child is to help your child focus on the good feelings that they experience when they give. Help them notice that it feels good and to recognize their feelings.
Say things like,
- ‘You must feel so good to know that your special, thoughtful gift has given me so much happiness!’
- ‘I know you put a lot of thought into that, and you know what….your special thoughts and the gift are so important to me, because they tell me that you love me, did you know that?’
Or ask some questions about how they arrived at this ‘particular gift’.
- ‘How did you decide to make this for me?’
- ‘Oh, you remembered that I said that I love those colors? Wow, you really care about what would make me feel happy.’
Notice things like:
- The time it might have taken to make.
- That they may have needed some help to get the materials, or the gift itself.
- That they remembered something special that you had said or done for someone else even and translated that information into making or buying something similar for you.
- Help them recognize the special thoughts, memories, decisions that they made and help them to give themselves credit for taking action on those things.
Also remember that children do not have the emotional development or the vocabulary to recognize and identify feelings, attitudes and thought processes. Talking about the gift, the gift selection process and the feelings, thoughts and attitudes attached to them is what helps your child develop these all important degrees of maturity.
So, when your child brings you a gift just remember that each little gift is an opportunity for you to show your child that you value that bond and connection you have with them. It’s a sign between you that you mean something to one another. Moreover, it is an opportunity for you to turn that into the Ultimate Gift….a deep-seated appreciation that they can develop from simply ‘giving’ to others. Help them develop an appreciation for themselves, for others and for the thoughts and feelings that connect them to their loved ones.
Talk Back to me. I want to hear your stories about the times your child has given you a gift. Or tell me about a gift that you gave your mom or dad when you were a child. We all have ‘gift’ stories, so let’s share them with one another.
Here’s to you and your child