A lot of people have been talking about about a widely circulated blog post titled ‘A message to those without children about buying gifts for kids’. Written by a mom who claims it was “less about [her], and more about the person giving,” the post has a response ratio of about three side-eyes for every round of applause (though many of the comments on the post itself are positive). It’s not that the gift-giving suggestions the blogger makes in her “Dos and Don’ts” list are especially exorbitant or difficult. No, the issues people have with the post stem from the underlying entitlement that a person must feel just to write such a thing. No one enjoys gift-giving when it comes with a bunch of demands masked as “thoughtful suggestions,” and it’s parents like the I Gave Up By Noon blogger that actually fuel the giving of certain items.
Take the #2 item in her ‘Don’ts’ list, “Toys that sing in THAT VOICE,” which implies that people buy toys that make noise just because they think their friends’ kids will love them. Nope! It’s because they think their friends are obnoxious and they want to torture them. With Christmas comes an opportunity for people (with or without children) to subtly let their friends know what they think of their parenting and/or children. Sound rude? Well, it can be, depending on whether parents have been “naughty or nice” to their friends since having a baby. Much like the eye for an eye principle, people apply a set of assessments when shopping for a friend or relative’s child, and any parent who’s written a list of gift “Dos and Don’ts” is probably more likely to wind up with the loudest, cheapest piece of shit plastic guitar on the market. I’m not saying this is a rule everyone applies, just that if your kid receives a toy that shatters your sanity with high-pitched singing, it might be for a reason.
It all comes down to this: Some parents enjoy nothing more than “schooling” their friends (and the general public) on various pieces of parenting advice. They figure, “Hey, if no one else is going to say it, I WILL!” But it isn’t virtuous to explain which gifts for kids suck ass (stuffed animals, candy, anything with lace, ruffles, or buttons) and which gifts are welcome/acceptable (wooden toys, cotton pajamas). It’s almost like parent bloggers view these “lesson-based” posts — often geared toward people without children — as handy resource guides, like Wikipedia entries that people will reference for years to come. And who knows, maybe people will. But for every parent who requests “good quality children’s literature” (which is like when The Barefoot Contessa says to use “good vanilla,”) and recommends that friends read a children’s book “6 times in a row and see if you like it,” there’s another parent delivering an agonizing lesson about something else. We are in the era of experts, after all. Here are some other messages that parents have helpfully relayed to their childless friends online: