Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Musings: Elf on the Shelf? Good or Bad?

It was the month of Christmas, and this mom was getting ready doing my parenting thing, decorating, baking, making lists, pulling out my Elf on the Shelf, when all of sudden, I found out through social media that I am a bad parent for doing the Elf on the Shelf.  What?!?  I didn't know there was controversy.   I thought I was providing a fun addition to the Holiday Spirit.  I thought I was a fun mom!

According to the experts, which includes psychologists, bloggers like myself, and others, I am doing my kids a disservice by having this Elf on the Shelf in my home.  And this what I found:

 1) It just adds to the lie about Santa! Santa is not real.  Why do we promote it even more with one of his elves.

2)  It can be manipulative.  Parents use it as a crutch for their parenting skills.  "You better be good, Elf is watching and is going to tell Santa"

3)  Really?  An elf coming into your house and being mischievous and making messes?

4)  It makes moms work extra hard each night to have the Elf do something fun and creative.  Believe me. I do Pinterest.  I understand the pressure.

I am sure there are many more, but those were the main ones.

After reading the controversy, I started questioning my decision to do Elf on the Shelf.   Am I  promoting the commercialism of Christmas which I despise?  Am I using it as crutch for my parenting?  Am I caving into social pressure to make our little elf as cute as the Jones'.?

After my introspection, I came up with this.  First of all, we didn't buy the real Elf on the Shelf.  It's a generic version under $10.   In my ignorance of not having the book, and never having read it, I did not know little Elfie was watching for Santa looking for naughty and nice kids.  I thought he was a fun little elf adding to the magic of Christmas.

Which brings me to my next thing.  The Christmas lie about Santa Claus.  Trust me, I have wrestled with this, and those parents who tell the kids right off the bat about Santa, I understand where they are coming from.  Yet we do Santa Claus and the Elf at our house.   And now that I have teenagers and smaller kids, I have learned it is okay to do the Santa Claus thing. The teenagers eventually figured out about Santa and are not emotionally scarred by it.  Yay!  In fact, they have said as I have proclaimed; They loved believing in Santa Claus..  It made Christmas magical.  And in the transformation from the literal belief in Santa to the belief in the Spirit of Giving that Santa represents, they have a great love for Christmas and all it's magic, and a great love for why we have Christmas in the first place.   (For a great read about this and the symbolism of Christmas,  I Believe in Santa Claus by Diane G. Adamson is perfect read.)

And last but not least,  the extra work, I get that more than you believe.  I fail at the Tooth Fairy.  The Tooth Fairy usually makes the round of the gathering the prized tooth after about 3 weeks or so.  I am so teaching my kids patience! :)  Honestly, I would never do the Elf on the Shelf  for that very reason.  However, I have a teenage daughter who has creative ideas and loves doing the Elf on the Shelf thing. So when I forget, which I usually do, she's got my back.  

So there.  I am not a "cotton-headed ninny muggins" (from Elf) mom for doing Elf on the Shelf.  I  am a very imperfect mom, just having fun at Christmastime. And whether you let Elf on the Shelf at your house or not, that's okay. Whether you have deeply philosophical reasons for not doing it or just don't want to do it, good for you!  Enjoy your kids!  Enjoy Christmas and let's let us all celebrate this amazing time of year together.

"Christmas isn't about perfection. It's celebrating the One who saved us from our impossible need to be perfect." -Tsh Oxenreider

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