Dec 11, 2013

Christmas Gifts You Wish They Hadn't Gotten

The ugly Bill Cosby sweater, the delicious fruit cake, the...gulp...Crocs! You know where I'm going with this - Every year, poor suckers everywhere become the reluctant recipients of such undesirable gifts. You don't quite know how to handle it, but the "put-a-smile-on-your-face-and-say-thank-you" voice in your head always chimes in. Maybe it's the hesitancy of shattering the look of excitement on your mother-in-law's face, or perhaps it's the guilt of seeming ungrateful, but one thing is for sure: we've all had our turn playing the part of the begrudgingly thankful beneficiary.

Such is the case with *certain* gifts that will inevitably be given to your children as well. Not the kangaroo underwear and socks combo from grandma (which is a whole other story), but the ones that you as the parent really wish your children hadn't received. Perhaps yours is the household that is overflowing with miniature toy cars and couldn't possibly make room for another. Or maybe you've been careful about what kinds of video games your children play with. In any case, most parents have at least one dreaded item on their "Please Don't Get This For My Kid" list.

But how do you tastefully tell someone what not to get your children? It seems so uncomfortable, so awkward...

Of course the best way to solve a problem is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. The Preventive I-Message is a tool used to communicate information and emotions in hopes to prevent a problem from happening in the future. Like all I-Messages, it should have three parts: (1) the behavior, (2) the feeling and (3) the effect. Letting people know all three components is critical, as it is the most effective way to let someone know exactly where you're coming from - and even - put them in your shoes.

Here's what it might look like:
We're nervous about Wyatt getting any more cars for Christmas because he already has so many that we can hardly keep up with the mess it creates when he plays with them. 
- or- 
Since he is so impressionable right now, we're worried that if Lucas gets that video game, we might have more issues at the playground if he tries to imitate the violence he sees from it. 
By communicating in this way, you're letting others in on some useful information about what is or isn't okay with you, which they may not have otherwise known. (And the same rule applies when you want to avoid being the recipient of a pair of monogrammed granny panties. We know, the ones from your birthday are gonna last you for years to come!)

Still, some people will be simply determined to get your kids what they want regardless of what you tell them and this won't always solve every instance of receiving unwanted gifts. But as Dr. Gordon wrote, "A Preventive I-Message in time might save nine [out of ten] confrontations."

This holiday season, give yourselves and your loved ones the gift of solving the problem before it happens. You may very well end up with one less item to add to the donation pile. We'll keep our fingers crossed for you. ;)

by: Selena George at Gordon Training International