Miss Manners: kids shouldn't donate their birthday money to charity

Filed under: In The News

There's a trend afoot amongst affluent suburban families. Parents who are trying to interest their kids in philanthropy and/or lesson the extent to which their homes are crammed with toys, are holding gift-free birthday parties. The idea is to have parents take the money they would've spent on presents and instead donate to a charity of the child's choosing.

Seems like a cute idea, right? Kids don't even play with half the presents they get, and, more than likely, they had too much stuff to begin with.

Not so fast, says Judith Martin, the writer behind the Miss Manners column. In an interview with the New York Times she speculated: "Do you really want the birthday child to grow up hating philanthropy because it' done him out of his birthday presents?"

Martin also believes children learn from graciously accepting gifts they don't like.

I actually can see both sides. Part of me thinks that a child who couldn't enjoy a birthday without receiving lots of presents is probably spoiled. That said, are young children -- such as the 4-year-old profiled in the Times piece -- really old enough to understand the concept of philanthropy in the first place?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.