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Focus on presence, not presents, say parenting experts

Published:Monday | December 18, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Kaysia Kerr

The National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC) is pushing for parents to focus on being present in their children's lives for the Christmas season, instead of buying expensive presents.

Kaysia Kerr, head of the NPSC, told The Gleaner yesterday that extravagance should not be the focus for the season but, instead, ensuring that lasting memories are created.

"We are pushing that the present you ought to be giving your child this year is your presence. It's the quality time that will matter, because it goes farther than any toy you could have bought. What we realise is that parents feel pressured to buy the latest gifts or the latest gadget, when, in fact, it's your presence that will create long-lasting memories," she said.


Love and happiness


"If I look back at my own life, I got Christmas gifts every year, but I can't recall one. What I remember is the buzz in the home with my mom at Christmas time. My family dinner was important to me because of the love and just that spirit of happiness that was at home. So if children get the love at home, they are going to be more appreciative of that," Kerr continued.

The NPSC head added: "So if it is that you have a family where the custom is baking a cake, then get the children involved in that practice because it is not necessarily the cake that they will remember but the fact that they were involved. Get into arts and craft and allow the child to make things, even making ornaments for the tree. In that way, you are doing something that is memorable, cost-effective, and you are creating a moment with your child."

Former head at the parenting organisation, Dr Patrice Charles, expressed similar sentiments, indicating that she has set the example by engaging in cost-effective activities with her children.

"I'm having a very modest Christmas. The children are used to a very extravagant Christmas, but this year, I decided to be moderate. The first thing I decided to do is limit the amount of money I spend on Christmas decorations. We spent very little on lights, etc, because they are very costly," Charles said.

"My advice to parents is that, especially when you have small children, it's a perfect time to make Christmas decorations."