Lesson 39: Say No to Elf on the Shelf

I hate Elf on the Shelf. I despise Elf on the Shelf. I openly mock my friends who participate in Elf on the Shelf.

It’s not just the commercialism of it, or the Pinterestism of it, or even just the creepiness factor. No, it’s the bribery behind it that bothers me more than anything. That damn little elf is nothing but a tattletale.

The premise that you need an elf to bribe your kid to behave makes me grit my teeth. It’s probably not the best form of behavioral modification, you know? I recently read a blog post in which the writer asked, “What do you do to inspire good behavior from your kids during the holidays?” How about doing the same things you do the other 11 months out of the year? You do do something the other 11 months, right? Whatever happened to teaching your kid to behave because it’s the right thing to do, not because some creepy little doll is spying on them and reporting bad behavior back to Santa? What about teaching them that there are real, rather than fictional, consequences?

Look, I don’t think for a second that I have this whole parenting thing figured out–not by a longshot. And I am not above bribery; I’ve done it in a pinch. Okay, I do it frequently. I know it’s not a good idea, but I also know that there are times when I feel like ripping my hair out and I really need him to stop screaming for just. a. minute. please. I make conscious decisions way too often that I know are not the best choices for my child in the long run. But sanity comes at a price, and sometimes I’m more than happy to pay it.

And I know that not everybody who does Elf on the Shelf does it for the purpose of bribery, so don’t get your panties in a wad. But I also know that if I did Elf on the Shelf, I absolutely, without a doubt, would use it to bribe my child. Because that’s how I roll.

But at the end of the day, I’d like my son to behave because he knows right from wrong, not out of fear or bribery. There will be no Elf on any shelves in this house, because I firmly believe that one shouldn’t place “fear and suspicion into a season and a holiday that are meant to be about love, togetherness, and forgiveness.”

2 comments on “Lesson 39: Say No to Elf on the Shelf

  1. My little guy isn’t old enough for an elf yet, but I confess I’m kind of looking forward to when he is for the creative part of it (hi, I’m Shanna, and I’m a Pinaholic) but I totally get what you’re saying here! I love the idea of adding to Christmas magic but have wondered about the behavior thing myself. I would guess from my days teaching preschool that it’s because kids go CRAZY in December with anticipation and need an extra boost to whatever behavior system their parents use – exactly like that hot line to Santa’s naughty list lol. I guess we’ll find out in a few years!

  2. There is no elf on my shelf, and there never will be. I’m not concerned about bribery, or that this new myth will teach my child to behave only because a supernatural doll with a pointy hat tracks his every move – he’s too smart for that. It’s true that I detest the blatant commercialization of it all, but the main reason that no elf will dare set foot in my house under penalty of a very gruesome death is that, quite simply, I don’t like lying to my children. I allow Santa some leeway because he’s got history, and because it means a lot to my wife, but if my son ever comes home and asks me why ‘Elfy’ never visits him, I intend to explain that it’s because Elfy is pretend. He’s just a doll. He isn’t real. My son will understand, and with any luck that’ll put him ahead of the curve on that whole Santa nonsense, too.

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