Donating Christmas Toys Without Shaming a Child
Twenty-four hours ago I saw a well intentioned but ultimately uncomfortable Facebook post. A mother asked for people she could gift her childs’used toys. No organisations as she wanted her child to see the receiver; she wanted her child to learn the beauty of giving. As I was once the child on the receiving end, I had many thoughts (and triggers!) about this.
Money. Oh, the things I learnt about money as a child because we had so little of it! It wasn’t until my teenage years when mum went back into the workforce that we started doing alright financially, but childhood was hard. The shame of being poor is real. The shame that despite working so, so hard for every little penny, there’s something you’re not doing as well as everyone else. Whatever it is, according to society, if you’re poor it’s entirely your fault, which, let’s be clear, is not!
Giving and receiving are two parts of a lever; one up, and the other down. When you’re on the receiving end, it’s so often because you’re going through a hard time whether it be emotional, mental, physical, or financial. It’s hard not to feel judged and/or pitied. The humility to receive can be uncomfortable and as a child watching others provide for your family is a sensitive issue – you naturally want to be so proud of your parents, yet you’re forced to recognise from an early age their inability to provide for all your needs. It puts your parents into a position of being ‘not enough’, and that’s heavy on a child.
That post was triggering for two main reasons: giving the gifts face-to-face with the receiving child, and second-hand toys offered as Christmas gifts. As for the first point, the mother wanted to gift the toys face to face, and with her child present. My response to this is that the receiving child should not be a part of this; they don’t need a reminder that they’re poor, trust me when I say they get enough daily reminders, but they do need the rare joy of receiving amazing gifts from their parents. Also, don’t allow room for comparison between the donated gifts and the parents’ ones.
Secondly, the mother wanted to gift gently used toys to teach both children the importance of being eco-friendly. From the receiving child’s perspective this implies that the “rich” kids can have brand new toys, but it’s them, the “poor”, who are only worth second-hand. The message they will carry throughout their life is that the “rich” get whatever they want, and the “poor” less for the sake of abating climate change. And let’s face it, the “giving child” was certainly going to receive brand new toys their Christmas day
As well intentioned as the mother was being, it was ultimately, and regrettably, self-serving. While she dreamed of smiles and gratitude from the receiver, the reality is that she would also be evoking a sense of shame that’s just not fair on a child, especially at Christmas time. So if you want to donate your used toys, give them directly to the parents and let them decide how and when to give them.