I write this post in hopes to read it again next November in preparation for Christmas 2016.
My son is 11 years old, which puts him, most likely, as part of Generation Z (or iGen). Wikipedia says the following about Generation Z:
Members of Generation Z have been affected by growing up through the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Great Recession, with some commentators suggesting that these events have given the cohort a feeling of unsettlement and insecurity. Patrick Cooper describes Generation Z as “innovative, entrepreneurial, and highly conscious of their futures and the challenges they face”.
Our kids, whether Millennials or Generation Z, have the added unsettlement of a broken family which adds to the unsettlement and insecurity. This has emerged with my son regarding the topic of gifts.
Whatever winter holiday you celebrate, western culture has made gift-giving the norm. If your inbox resembles mine, the pressure to give to others (or yourself) continues long after Christmas. I still get dozens of marketing emails promising the sales will soon end.
Naturally, about one month before Christmas, I ask my son what gifts he might enjoy. When asked directly, he rarely comes up with any practical answer. Yes, a motorcycle, a Segway, and a machete (thanks Nacho Libre) consistently make the list…and he already knows the answer to each of those requests.
However, when we just walk through a store, he routinely makes comments about what he would spend his money on. But he has a difficult time answering a direct inquiry.
He may feel guilty about asking for things when he knows we have watched our budget closely since the divorce. He may have so many choices his brain simply shorts out when he has to choose only one or two. I do not know what it is, but buying for him is difficult.
What my son asks for on a daily basis is time. Time to play “Push Dad Off The Bed”, or time to ride a bike, or time with his friends. Some days, those “gifts” can be harder to give than a Segway. (Do not worry, he also asks to play the Xbox quite a bit)
So, next year, I may take the advice of others who write about giving experiences/time as gifts. You can find one of my favorites by Zen Habits here.
Next year, instead of what he wants, I will ask what he wants to do or create or experience.
Let’s see how that goes.
What non-consumer gift have you given your kid? How was it received? Would you do it again?