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Delayed gratification is best

By Danielle Norby
For the Enterprise

Millions of Americans consider the money spent on Christmas gifts as a sacrifice.
Imagine sending your infant son (Jesus) to a world full of violence to save those who are misusing their own free will.
Children learn from their caregivers. However, how many children are learning the true meaning of Christmas?
Socio-economic patterns differ and each individual has different views and experiences of the holiday season. Over the years, Christmas has evolved from a celebration of love to a holiday of material goods.

Televisions, iPads, cell phones, and gaming systems are quickly outdated, but God sending his one and only son is timeless.
Materialism has evolved Black Friday into “Black November.” More than 15,000 people were shopping at Macy’s Department Store in New York City Thanksgiving night to take advantage of discounts and sales. Walmart’s top-selling items in the store include tablets, televisions, bed sheets, children’s apparel and video games. Target’s most popular items were televisions, Xbox One, iPads, and cameras.
In the first hour of the sale, Target, based in Minneapolis, sold 1,800 TVs and 2,000 video games every minute. A New York Times article reported a “retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., said that 22 million shoppers streamed through stores across the country on Thanksgiving Day.
That is more than the number of people who visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom in an entire year. Millions of people were shopping in stores and online over the Thanksgiving weekend. It is estimated $616.9 billion will be spent in November and December 2014, and projected annual sales are approximately $3.2 trillion.
Sanford University educates about the culture of poverty and two groups involved - impoverished families and dominant/ idealized families.
Most individuals in the middle class are considered dominant or idealized. This culture has a long-term outlook and often saves for children’s education and invests in property to pass on to future generations.
Families are stable, monogamous, nuclear families. Children are produced when the family is financial stable and committed. The conservative families in this group usually have a father who works and a mother who stays home; this model only works if the wife trusts her husband will not abandon her because she would not have sufficient labor market skills.
The idea of quality versus quantity of children is also idealized. These families are diligent and dependable, they work hard for future rewards, and believe the system will eventually reward loyal service.
These families save for the future rather than spending time and money on vacations or luxuries.
A large number of individuals in Northern Minnesota are impoverished. The culture of poverty differs from the dominant or idealized culture which may contradict the understanding of the true meaning of Christmas.
The time horizon of the culture of poverty is short-term; impoverished individuals are not able to save or invest when the amount provided by charities is to simply make ends meet.

Love in five languages
Gary Chapman, author of “The Five Love Languages” explains the five ways to communicate love - words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch and receiving gifts.
Chapman explains how young children are not yet able to verbalize their love language so parents must investigate to see what their children positively respond to.
Children are always observing and learning due to rapid brain development so this is a positive time to expose them to multiple love languages.

The ultimate gift
If Christmas is a season of celebrating love, gift giving is not the only option. Regardless of income and the number of gifts given, if receiving gifts is not a child’s love language, the child may not feel loved throughout the holiday season.
My generation grew up in the 90s when the economy was doing well so children received many gifts.
This tradition, followed by a recession, created a generation of individuals who believe in instant gratification regardless of socioeconomic status. This is the generation that is having children now. The acceptance and under-
standing of delayed gratification has also decreased with technology.
Let’s take this Christmas season to get back to a celebration of love.
First, affirm your children at least 10 times more than you criticize them. A child’s brain has rapidly firing neurons, which gives the child the ability to think of every exception to a rule. Providing positive feedback for expectations met by the child will reaffirm what is expected and increase self-esteem.
Second, volunteer a random act of kindness. Teach the child the joy of giving without an expectation of return. Acts of service are a fantastic way to share the Christmas spirit.
Third, give your children more attention than you give your friends, phone, laptop, iPad, or television. Spend quality time with your child by playing board games or eating dinner together at the dinner table.
Fourth, hug or hold your child.
And finally, share the gift of remembering our God who sent his only Son to show us a way, a truth and a life of self-giving love.

Danielle Norby, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist, is the founder/president of A Better Connection, Inc. in Park Rapids.

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