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Parental communication patterns and children's Christmas requests

Peter Clarke (Department of Marketing, Griffith Business School, Nathan, Australia)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 12 September 2008



An important part of the Christmas ritual is the request tradition. Parents ask their children what they would like for Christmas, respond to a child's request or often initiate such Christmas communication exchanges. These styles of family communication relate to the socialization of children into consumption and Christmas. This exploratory study aims to consider aspects of parental approaches to their children's request behavior within the Family Communication Patterns (FCP) typology.


Data were gathered via a survey of parents in the period prior to Christmas supported the factor structure of the FCP typology via Exploratory Factor Analysis and Confirmatory Factor Analysis.


It appears that parents encourage a positive exchange of desire and opinion from children; they also question the sources of information and suitability of the gift. In this manner, parents appear to condone, if not generate, an atmosphere of open request behavior because the limiting of gift requests through direct parental instruction is minimal.

Practical implications

Continual adaptation of the FCP typology from the original context has implications for consumer behavior theory at a factor analysis level. Parental responses to Christmas request behavior are an important topic of interest to consumer behavior researchers, the toy industry, retailers and business in general.


This research explores contemporary issues of parental interactions with their children during the gift request ritual. It is timely to explore theory related to this topic because much of the rhetoric around Christmas accentuates the pester power syndrome. Yet, Christmas symbolizes love, family and nurture where parental values engender request behavior and children's desires generate the requests. The findings have consequences for consumer advocates and social commentators, as well as providing cultural and ritual interpretations within parent‐child interactions.



Clarke, P. (2008), "Parental communication patterns and children's Christmas requests", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 25 No. 6, pp. 350-360.



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