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Birthday Gift Registries: Convenience or Crossing the line?


Birthday Gift Registries: Convenience or Crossing the line? 

By Marye Audet

Today’s parents are using as many shortcuts as possible to keep up with the demands of the day. Smartphone apps signal appointments and events, SIRI acts as an administrative assistant, and with the click of a few keys you can have groceries delivered or gifts sent on their way. We do love convenience and we need it. 

That’s what makes the strong opinions about birthday gift registries for children so interesting. You’d think that parents everywhere would be hailing gift registries as a welcome timesaving option. But have we crossed the line? 

Birthday gift registries are

the center of heated controversy 

The truth is that, unlike bridal registries or baby registries, children’s birthday registries are the center of quite a controversy. While some parents do think that it’s a wonderful timesaver, others are concerned that these registries will create an attitude of entitlement or expectation. Words like tacky, presumptuous, rude, and awful are common when talking to people about these trendy registries for children. 

Kathleen Marshall sees the benefit when used carefully. She says, “I think they can be a good idea for milestone birthdays, like baby’s first year, sweet 16 or 18 and getting ready to go to college. But, as an every year thing, it seems greedy.”

Lori Soard believes they are a godsend. “Children’s gift registries are a great idea. If you aren’t sure what to buy, the decision is taken care of for you. You don’t have to worry about giving a gift the child already has or might not like.”

Sabrina Michaels wishes that the registries were more socially acceptable. She says, “Even though I think people think registries are ill-mannered, I wish they were not. I would love a registry for a kid’s party. I have four-year and six-year-old boys, so we are in the birthday party stage of life. It’s hard to know what a kid is into if the party doesn’t have a theme. Plus, you don’t want to get a kid something they already have. I think since it’s a societal norm to bring presents to a birthday party, registries should be OK.”

However, Erin Myers says,  “It’s rude and presumptuous. Kids will become greedy, spoiled brats.”

Edye Buxbaum has a similar thought, “I think it is a little tacky—and a lot presumptuous. I like my niece’s birthday invitation for her fourth birthday party which said, ‘The only gift necessary is your presence.’”

Another Louisiana mom, Tina Shiver says, “I personally don’t believe in gift registries for kids. To me it can cause kids to become entitled. Children need to learn a gift is a personal choice not a requirement.”

But what do the pros say?

Parents are certainly divided on the issue. Some love it; others hate it, and probably the majority of us are undecided. What do the people who work with birthdays, and children, and toys every day have to say about it?

Chandra Weathers is the birthday coordinator at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum Store. She confirms that the store does have a gift registry that parents can access through the website, but parents don’t use it as much as they did in the past. She has been working at the museum for 15 years and notes that in the past, people would use the registry, pay for the gift, and the museum would have the gift wrapped and waiting for them. Chandra says, “I’ve noticed that people have moved away from registries.”

Tips for using a registry 

Can you use a birthday registry without turning your children’s souls into seething pits of greed and selfishness?

Sure!

If you plan to use a children’s birthday gift registry, there are ways that you can reduce the possibility of planting seeds of entitlement in your child.

Have price limits on gifts so that no one feels pressured to get something they can’t afford and all of the gifts are within the same price range. Grandparents are exempt from this. 

Encourage gratefulness, not just on birthdays but every day.

Remind your child that the list is for suggestions only. They won’t get everything on it and that is okay.

Don’t offer information about the gift registry unless a guest asks what your child wants.

Make it clear to the guests, and your child, that the registry is optional.

Be creative. One family decided to create a gift registry and donate the gifts to a local women’s shelter.

Thank you notes never go out of style.

The bottom line is whether or not you allow your child to use a gift registry, it’s important to instill good values in her. There’s no registry in the world that can overcome good parenting.

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03 Jun 2016


By Marye Audet

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