Dr. Peter Marshall
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Dr. Marshall has written for scientific journals, magazines such as Canadian Living and Parent-to-Parent, and newspapers. A list of journal papers is contained in his Curriculum Vitae.
If you would like to read one of his recent articles, please select from the left:



Spoiled Rotten?


A World of Their Own

Cooking for Kids

Work - Does It Build Character?

The Barbeque


Spoiled Rotten?

  He was aghast at the materialistic attitude of the younger generation. As far as he was concerned, children were "gluttons and drunkards of pleasure" whose greed made them a"burden to themselves and a torment to others." Before the little darlings were hardly out of their pinafores and knickerbockers they had "drained the cup of pleasure to its dregs." Parents were reminded that all they had needed as youngsters were a top and a doll. Now their children were throwing away expensive toys like miniature steam engines and pianolas almost before the New Year arrived. They were also throwing away any hope of future happiness: "Little people who enjoy at the age of ten what belongs to the age of twenty are spending their capital instead of living on their interest."

  As we read on, we took comfort from the knowledge that ours is not the first generation of parents to have succumbed to the pressures of gift-giving. Perhaps the kids of today areno more preoccupied with thoughts of Santa's bulging sack than their ancestors. Maybe the ever-growing wish lists are not worth getting excited about. Victorian children may have been indulged at times, but they and their offspring went on to create a society that gave us such benefits as medicare and universal education. If they weren't spoiled rotten by the bounty of Christmas, perhaps our children will also escape this fate.

  Even though I encourage parents to take a more relaxed attitude to the demands of children during this season, it can be worthwhile to spend time thinking of ways to help them appreciate the importance of giving. Christmas provides an excellent opportunity to show them how rewarding it can be to consider others and not only themselves. Here are some examples of ways to teach the spirit of the season:

  Make a point of asking children about the gifts they have given. We often enquire, "what do you want (or what did you get) for Christmas?" but neglect to ask, "what are you planning to give your Mom?" or "did Dad like the present you gave him?"

  Take younger children with you when you go grocery shopping and let them pick an item they can put in the container for the local food bank.

  Ask each child to pick one of their hardly-ever-left-the-box toys to be donated to a Christmas toy drive. Start a collection at home to buy a gift for the toy drive.

  Even pennies and nickels will mount up over the two months before Christmas.

  Take your older children with you to volunteer in a community organization for example, delivering Christmas hampers for needy families or the elderly. One of our favourite traditions of the season is the carolling party hosted by our close friends. Before the get-together the children and parents tour a retirement home and sing for the residents, many of whom are bedridden.

Parents will be able to come up with other ways to help children appreciate the importance of giving. Making this a part of Christmas planning is just another example of how we instill values in our children; I no longer see it as a losing battle against the commercial onslaught of the season. Secure in the belief that we are not surrounded by gluttons and drunkards of pleasure, my wife and I have decided to stop feeling guilty about the fact that there is still no tin cup to be found in the house.



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