Sometimes, the simplest question posted online can generate the most rude and judgmental replies.
This was a lesson learnt this week by Sam Jockel, founder and administrator of the popular School Mum Facebook page.
Designed to help parents band together and support each other while navigating child-rearing, the group's Facebook page became a forum for hateful comments and rude accusations after Sam posted what she thought was a simple, uncontroversial question:
Little did she realise the Pandora's Box she was opening.
"I asked the question solely out of interest, as I have no idea what people do these days,” she clarified after the post blew up.
"I personally would spend a maximum of $100 on each child and $20 on cousins and $50 on our adult family secret santa. [But] how much you spend on your child has no connection to how good a parent you are, or [acts] as some kind of proof that you love your kids more."
Some of the commenters on this post — and there were more than 500 of them in total — had very different ideas.
Tina wrote, "I'm shocked at how much people spend on presents! We spend about $30 each!"
Similarly, Carly commented, "I have three kids and this year got their Christmas presents for less than $200, for all 3 together! Perhaps we are being stingy but I don't want to set them up to think that Christmas is about getting lots of toys..."
Tiffany said she spends, "About $500-$600 per child," adding that she has three kids.
"Wow I just read some of the amounts. Sorry but I am blown away. My 2 get around $100 spent on each of them and then we buy a $50 [present] for a boy and girl their ages to donate to the Christmas tree for disadvantaged kids. And Christmas Day we go to the mission to help serve homeless dinners. I must be a scrooge compared to some of you guys," commented Lynn Maree.
One mum, Emma, said she doesn't quite keep track, commenting, "Around $1500 but I don't keep track, although she is my only child and I've always spent that much. Yes it's too much, but she doesn't act any differently to any other child her age, spoilt and so on! I do love Christmas and try to make the memories for her first and foremost."
And Jacinta wrote, "I hate this question – it doesn't matter! What I spend is right for my family, what you spend is right for yours. This question always turns into a pissing contest... To me, Christmas is all about memories! Going to carols, seeing Christmas lights, decorating our tree – and yep Santa coming – but the excitement of him coming, not just the gift."
Not surprisingly, parents who admitted to spending more generously were called out for spoiling their kids, while those who spent less appeared to gloat about their frugal ways.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter how much you spend on your kids at Christmas time — whether it's $5 or $500 isn't the point — what matters is that you do your best to provide for your family.
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