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December 02, 1989 - Image 79

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

However, Dr. Kwass continues,
young school-age children compare
themselves with other kids." Ours is
a material society and, with the
amount of advertising they are bom-
barded with, it is important for
school-aged children to get the same
kinds of gifts that their circle of
peers get," he says.
Naturally, there are variations in
family gift-giving patterns. Indeed,
there are variations in families.
Divorces are one. "In some situa-
tions, the non-custodial parent is
reduced to being the gift-giver, to
break the ice and make up for the
absences from the home," Dr. Kwass
says. "It is important for the parent
to confront the situation when the
youngster begins thinking of the
gift as the treat and the visit as pro
forma, rather than the other way
around."
There are other things to keep in
mind. Young children do not drive,
and the great majority of them do
not have an independent source of
income. Therefore, they are limited
in the kinds of gifts they can give

"

There are guidelines and
proper etiquette to find
the appropriate gifts for
those who matter most.
There are variations in
family gift giving patterns.

in return. There are ways to handle
this situation tactfully. Thoughtful
parents (or someone else like grand-
parents, aunts and uncles) can
organize a subsidized shopping
outing. Or the child can be helped
in an activity like baking "gift"
cookies, or in preparing a special
treat like breakfast in bed for Mom-
mie.
Sometimes teachers fill this gap
for they will often use the holidays
as an excuse for organizing an ar-
tistic craft project. The ever-perfect
Miss Manners, writer Judith Mar-
tin, notes in her etiquette book,
Miss Manners' Guide To Ex-
cruciatingly Correct Behavior, that
there must be adequate display
areas in the home for this "artwork."
The standard household exhibit
space, usually the refrigerator door
or some countertop in the kitchen
area, will do.
Gifts are equated with self-

esteem, no matter what the age of
the child, but adolescence brings
another dimension to this issue. Dr.
Kwass says, "For adolescents, self-
esteem is based on popularity and
status as well as possessions.
Thenagers still look to their parents
as their epicenter, and they may
become very disappointed when
they expect the same kinds of gifts
and concerns from their friends dur-
ing the holidays as they have come
to expect from their families."
In Dr. Kwass' opinion, gifts
should be "affirmative." In other
words, girls enjoy gifts that en-
courage or affirm their femininity,
such as clothes, makeup mirrors and
manicure sets, and boys respond to
gifts that attest to their mascu-
linity, especially in adolescence.
What about adults? Recently, a
cosmetics company conducted a na-
tional survey of gift-giving among
adults that revealed some interest-
ing differences. To the survey ques-
tion, "How do you find out what
others want?," women responded
that they planned and considered
what to give far in advance of
actually shopping. Not so men, who
tended not to think about "appro-
priate" gifts until they arrived in the
store.
The survey asked, "What are the
best gifts you've received?" Women
responded that they were most hap-
py when they expected a practical
gift but got a romantic one instead.
Men said they were happiest when
the grandeur of the gift exceeded
their expectations.
Another survey question was,
"What kinds of gifts do you always
keep and never return?" Money
topped this list for both women and
men, with other luxury items such
as furs and jewelry following.
Women also said they rarely return
fashion accessories, anything
homemade and anything with sen-
timental value.
Unfortunately, the gift-giving and
receiving of the holiday season is
not without its frustrations. But
even young children need to learn
the social coping skills that Miss
Manners calls "holiday hypocrisy."
She writes, "Children must be
taught to express pleasure and sur-
prise when they open presents, con-
cealing their actual assessment of
the acquisition if it is inconsistent
with the official emotion."
Adults, who presumably have

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