Resist commercial pressures this Christmas!

A Mothers’ Union survey into Christmas pressures on families, shows that 72% of parents have bought their children a gift that was on their Christmas list which they really couldn’t afford, while 59% admit they have bought a gift which was unsuitable for their child’s age.

As we enter the most commercialised time of the year, with family finances under pressure, Mothers’ Union is calling on parents to ditch the Christmas list for their children, as it launches Labelled for Life, its new guide on how to deal with the commercial influences on family life. Here are some tips from the guide on managing children’s expectations on what they can and can’t have, which were put together by parents, for parents:

Teach your child how to save – it is an important skill for life. Having to save up pocket money to buy something provides a test of the importance of a purchase to your child.

Children can learn to put the value of goods into perspective if they see the comparative value of things. You could discuss for example the fact that a pair of trainers may cost the same as a family ticket to see a show

Discuss the family budget with your child to teach them money management, eg discuss how much money could be saved by buying shop brands rather than brand names.

Talk to your child about commercialisation and, if appropriate, sexualisation. Ask what has influenced them to want certain items and then explain the reasons, values and experiences that guide your decisions for not buying some things.

Talk to your child about the pressures they feel. Reassure them it is OK to be different and that true friendship isn’t based on what you own, wear or do.

Talk to you child about why you have set certain boundaries. It helps to build common understanding.

Reflect on the peer pressure you face as a parent – do you feel you have to ‘keep up with the Joneses’?

“Our survey shows that Christmas is the time of year when parents feel most pressurised into buying their children gifts which are over their budget, or inappropriate to their age,” said Reg Bailey, chief executive of Mothers’ Union. “We want to ensure parents have the confidence to manage Christmas without debt or the stress of disappointing their children. The majority of parents we spoke to (69%) said that Christmas lists create disappointment for children if they do not receive all the gifts that they have asked for. We wouldn’t want to spoil the traditions of Christmas, but we are asking parents to consider ditching the Christmas list specifically to help reduce this sense of disappointment at what should be a time of happiness for all the family. Our new Labelled for Life guide aims to give parents the confidence they need to handle issues around the commercialisation they face as a family.”

Survey Methodology:

ComRes interviewed 1,110 parents with children under the age of 18 living at home online from 17th to 21st October 2012. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all British adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are available at

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