Goody Bag Overindulgence by David J. Bredehoft & Jennifer Van Pelt

Journalist Jeff D. Opdyke, columnist for The Wall Street Journal Sunday wrote a series of articles about a growing trend: parents giving out goody bags to kids at the conclusion of a birthday party. "Goody bags [are] those treat-filled sacks you dispense as a thank-you gift to kids for showing up to play with friends, run wild and nosh on cake and ice cream" (Trying to Put Some Good in Goody Bags, Oct. 5, 2003, Wall Street Journal Sunday).


Opdyke reports that some parents like to give out goody bags, however, others despise them because they are often filled with unwanted candy, useless trinkets, and in some cases they have gotten "ridiculously expensive, fueling an arms race among parents inclined to one-up one another." In a follow-up article (Readers Take On the Goody Bag (and More), Oct 12, 2003, Wall street Journal Sunday) Opdyke passes on numerous reader suggestions to parents on how to deal effectively with this issue.

From our perspective this "goody bag trend" is more evidence that overindulgence is on the rise in our culture. Our research indicates that overindulgence is the process of giving things to children to meet the adult's needs, not the children's needs. When parents try to "one-up" other parents by giving the best goody bag, whose needs are they satisfying? We also found that overindulgence has some long lasting effects on children such as: missing skills, not knowing what is enough, and difficulties with boundaries.

To find out more about the lasting legacy of overindulgence, how it affects children and adults, and what to do instead, read How Much is Too Much?

There is more help about avoiding overindulgence in How Much is Too Much? Raising Likeable, Responsible, Respectful Children – From Toddlers To Teens – In An Age of Overindulgence (2014, DaCapo Press Lifelong Books).


All photos from Pexels.

© David J. Bredehoft, Jean Illsley Clarke & Connie Dawson 2004-2023;