The Greatest Gift

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Giving to others brings great pleasure and happiness and there is no better evidence of this than the joy of Christmas. However, giving is often loaded with emotion and purpose. We place various meanings on the act of both giving and receiving. In some cases, people give to make themselves feel better – perhaps by absolving themselves of guilt – or as a way of demonstrating love, particularly if they have trouble expressing love in other ways. Receiving a gift can bring about a range of emotions, from joy to indifference to embarrassment. There can be dilemmas around whether to give or not give in certain circumstances. People have expectations about giving and receiving that may sometimes not be met, and this can lead to disappointment or tension. The acts of giving and receiving can be very complex.

This is particularly so when it comes to parents giving to children. Giving can take many forms – from love and affection to tangible gifts and money. Parents who constantly give to their children in many forms often do so as a way of dealing with guilt or making themselves feel as though they are better parents. Constant giving can lead to expectations or even demands from children and, for older children, can create an unhealthy dependency on parents. The greatest gift a parent can give to a child is the ability to be financially independent. How well a child succeeds in life will be as much about financial literacy as it is about education and career. Giving too much to children deprives them of the opportunity to learn to fend for themselves. Parents who are overgenerous may feel as though they are helping their children more than other parents, but in fact their acts of giving can be detrimental. Give, but not too much.

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