General Etiquette > Family and Children

When giving a child a gift

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Here's a hypothetical situation:

Let's say you are giving a kid something like either a book, movie, or videogame. You are familiar with the content of the story, and as far as you can tell, there is nothing in it that is inappropriate for someone of their age or maturity level. Also, as far as you know, there is nothing in it that the parents would have a problem with. Nevertheless, some parents have problems with certain things that other parents may not care about at all, and some children may not be able to handle a concept that other kids their age can handle. People may not always make this kind of thing clear to others. This problem can be hard to avoid, as pretty much any story aimed at older children and teens that is worth reading/watching can possibly offend someone in the world. So which of the following things would you do just to make sure the gift is okay?

1. Give the gift to the parents beforehand so that they can review it before allowing it to be given to the kid.

2. Direct the parents to an information source about the story and the themes in it (like a website that reviews the story)

3. Just mention to them anything that jumped out at you as a possible issue (ex. "Just so you know, a character in the book gets drunk/dies/jaywalks

4. Don't do anything, just give the gift and if the parents want to review it before actually letting the kid have it, that is their business.

5. Something else?

Also, would the child's age affect you decision? I think it would for me, as I probably would just do choice 4 for a teenager.

I was also reminded today of when I was given a joke book at age 12. My mom read it, realized it was pretty explicit, and took it away, giving it back to me a year later. Of course the funny thing was that my mom had been the one to give me the book in the first place  :)

Number 4.

I wouldn't give anything I thought was remotely questionable, but in the event that a parent thought it was unsuitable, I'd let them sort it out.

I would second what CakeEater said; in addition, when choosing the gift, I would probably stick to the age guidelines the toymaker/publisher usually puts on the box (if in the U.S. I can't say how it is in other countries).

I'd follow the manufacturer's/review board/google the recommended age for the item, and if it met those, give it. Unless I know that the family in question has restrictions beyond the norm, I assume the follow the norm- and leave the extra policing up to them. It's no different than the fact that some parents want only "organic/fair-trade/mentally-stimulating/bare-wood/montessori" toys for their kids- if I *know* that, I'll follow it- if not, I'll get them something that has "6-12 months" on the tag and call it good. 

I would  personally also aim towards "less controversial", given the choice, if it is a family/child I don't know well. I wouldn't get a book that many reviewers had issues with, or a toy that is commonly complained about (say, Bratz or  toy guns). Then again, I do that with adults I don't know well.

For my own kids, number four would be fine. My older child (4 years) is an anxious, fearful sort, so we're careful about what shows she gets to see. However, we're perfectly fine telling her that she has to wait until she's older to watch something. I'd be a little taken aback if someone bought her Die Hard for Christmas, but things that are appropriate for her general age group are perfectly acceptable, even if we do decide she has to mature a little bit before watching them.


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