And a Malibu Barbie in a pear tree

I’ve done it again. Every year, I vow in the autumn that I will NOT buy too many Christmas gifts for my girls. “Just a few things they REALLY want,” I say, “and no overindulgence.”

Then it comes time, right about now, to take out of the Secret Hiding Place the toys I’ve collected for them, and  … oops. That’s really quite a lot.

Add to that a loving father who tends to buy last-minute treats, and four we-live-to-spoil-the-girls grandparents, and you’ve got Christmas overload.

A First World problem, I know. And one that many unemployed parents wish they had right now.

But it can also be a legitimate danger: Setting up entitlement and high expectations in children can seriously damage them — now and later.

Friday’s “Parenting” article in the Pocono Record, titled “Wants go wild,” has interesting thoughts on the subject.

One parenting tactic that struck me was a simple poem that a Wisconsin mom uses to keep her three children’s Christmas lists sane. Each child can make four requests: “one want, one need, one wear, one read.” Easy and reasonable.

Some parents might feel that’s too stringent, unless money is tight. A father from Illinois says that if a child’s dearest wish is affordable, it’s appropriate to fulfill it.

“He recalled a time when his own father purposely deprived him of a much-desired electric train set,” states the Chicago Tribune article. “His father chose to buy him a less exciting, slightly less expensive train set when he could have ‘easily afforded’ the nicer one.”

The man, a clinical psychologist, still remembers this with some hurt.

He’s 65.

“You don’t have to always keep your children hungry and wanting more — it can hurt your relationship,” the man said.

Keeping Christmas reasonable, but still putting that delighted sparkle in your child’s eye: It’s a gift.

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