Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why I Hate the Elf on the Shelf

I hate the Elf on the Shelf.

There, I said it. Now let me explain.

Thanksgiving weekend is the time when the elves are brought out of storage and returned to their place of watchmen for Santa Claus over the children. The elf keeps track of every movement, breath, tantrum, sass, smile, politeness, broken house rule....always watching....then reports back to Santa Claus every night for proper placement of each child on the naughty or nice list. While the threat of no Christmas hangs over your child for the next four weeks the elf can seemingly break all the rules of the house with no consequences.

The elf is "adopted" by the family yet is only part of the family for the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. What message could this send to adopted children? Maybe "fostering" or hosting an "exchange elf" might be a better expression. Adoption means one is part of the family for ever, not just when it is convenient.

The elf is only in the home from Thanksgiving to Christmas eve, so do children only need to be "good" during that time?

The internet is inundated with Elf on the Shelf ideas: ways to have your elf be mischievous, what to do if your child "touches" the elf, elf parties, calendars to keep track....It is all very disturbing to me and I see job security for the therapists of the world due to Childhood Elf Trauma Disorder.

Always watching.....I have a big problem with that. Children live in a very literal world. I want to continually build trust with my children and be open and honest with everything. If they break something, spill milk, wet the bed, get mad at their sibling, ace the spelling test, clean their room without being asked....I want them to tell me. I want to catch them being good and I want to discipline them appropriately and immediately for undesired behavior. I am the parent.

I imagine a child could feel guilty and fearful that he or she might not have Christmas if they break a rule or have a meltdown before the bus arrives or choose not to tell a parent that they broke something and hide it instead, hoping the elf didn't see it either. "What if Santa finds out!" Are you, as a parent, really truly prepared to not give your child a Christmas? No, way! Christmas is too important and more important is the Christmas message.

Santa Clause, reindeer, and happy little elves are joyous and wonderful things, they should be celebrated, not be used to "control" your child's behavior no matter how desperate you become.

The elf on the shelf is lacking the true meaning of Christmas: to give freely and to love freely without conditions, without limitations. If there is a war on Christmas, the Elf on the Shelf is leading the charge.

(I found this on Pinterest. Would your child get in trouble for writing on the mirror? Then why is is ok for the Elf to do it?)

I found this photo & link to an etsy shop on Pinterest. Notice the card specifically says try harder or "NO toys on Christmas morning!"

It might as well say: I'm taking Christmas away because your acting your age!

What possibly could a child ever do to lose Christmas? Nothing. So, stop using it as a threat.


  1. this blog post was really great and I would like to add a few comments:)
    -though I never considered it before reading your blog, an "exchange" elf is probably the most appropriate term because "foster" is a delicate term in most families. My siblings joke about Bios and the Foster children, but we're trying to use those terms less because it makes them feel like a.temporary part of our family structure (they've lived with us for 10 years and are very permanent. My family is just extremely slow about adopting). Foster kids shouldn't be sent back to the north pole every Christmas; )
    -I also heavily agree with you about holding Christmas over your kids heads. I think it's rather unkind, not to mention stressful for the parent! My (wonderful) sister-in-law does this to her kids. They are given money on Christmas and she takes some away every time they are naughty. When these kids finally get the remaining cash , they never say thank you because they "earned it"...
    I love strict parenting, but only if it results in grateful obedient kids. Bribing, threatening and manipulating once a year does not work folks....

  2. Totally creepy and weird. And they're pushing "birthday" elf now too. Vomit.

  3. This is fantastic! I love this post! I wonder too, what kind of an example is that elf setting! Not a very good one!