Dealing With Holiday Parent Guilt
Yes, the holiday season is here once again! 'Tis the season to see homes and stores decorated, holiday cards to send out, and stressing over what gifts to buy for friends and family. The other day when I happened to be in a department store getting some items, I overheard a parent's apologetic explanation to their 5-year-old child that he could not have a particular toy for Christmas. I couldn't tell who was more upset, the mother or the boy. This incident caused me to think about the 15 million people still out of a job and how does one recession-proof their children's Santa's list? And as a parent, how can we learn not to feel guilty about not being able to comply with our children's wants and wishes due to financial constraints? These are not always easy things to do but here are some things you can do so you don't have to feel like Grinch during this upcoming holiday season.
Financial constraints or not, I don't believe that children have to have everything they ask for in order to validate parents to feel "good" about their ability to provide for them. Children will always ask for things whether they really need it or not, it's just what kids do. However, just because they ask, doesn't mean that it's necessary to feel obligated to give them their every want. Somehow when parents say "no" to their child's request (especially something that has a dollar sign attached to it), we somehow translate that "no" internally and feel that we are not a "good enough" parent. The trick is not to feel less of a parent and not to feel angry that you can't or won't oblige their request. Give yourself permission let go of that belief that you are not a good parent unless you buy your child everything they ask for. It's more important to focus on the love and support we can give our children everyday. No amount of money to buy "stuff" is equal to a child feeling loved and secure… that is priceless!
How to Recession Proof Santa's List
- Choose one or two gift items that would be most meaningful: One great gift is probably more meaningful than ten gifts that are played with once and then discarded. Think quality (meaningfulness), not quantity!
- Giving them the gift of feeling special: Instead of feeling you have to purchase the newest and greatest gift for your child, give them a gift of your time. For example, as a gift, let them choose a day that they are Princess or Prince for the day. It's their special day to spend with you. They can choose their favorite movie, activity, lunch or dinner hang out ( you can also give them two or 3 suggestions based on your financial status and let them choose from it- it still gives them the feeling of choice). Spending special time with their parent(s) will be a day they won't forget.
- Holiday Coupons From the Heart: If holiday gifts are out of the question this year, you can make a coupon book that you can give your children that are things that don't cost a lot but are fun and meaningful to them. It could be a coupon for breakfast in bed, a coupon for making them their favorite meal, a coupon for getting out of chores for the day, a coupon for staying up late to watch a favorite show on TV, a coupon for their favorite candy, etc. Coupons from the Heart don't have to cost a lot but it still translates to the child that they are loved and special.
Ask Dr. Andie
Questions can be submitted through the website and if possible, will be answered either in the Q&A section or in the Power2Relate Newsletter.
My seven-year-old son gave me his Santa's List a few weeks ago. He's not a really demanding child and he really appreciates toys or other things that are either bought for him or are given to him as a gift. Unfortunately, last week my boss told our division that we were being fazed out and our last day will be the end of December. I feel so badly that I can't buy the things now on my son's list. How can I tell him Santa isn't coming to his house this year?
I am so sorry about you losing your job. I know that it being around the holidays doesn't make it any easier. Say the following out loud: "Just because I can not give my child everything he wants, it doesn't mean he will not love me". Repeat this every time you get those pangs of guilt! Maybe this year, you may only be able to buy one thing from his list, and that is wonderful. You can also leave a note from Santa saying that this year the gifts are being replaced with gifts from the heart or Santa's Holiday Experiences. Come up with activities or things that he will like that will not cost much money but will be fun experiences. Studies have shown that when adults were asked what was their best gift they received when they were a child, they predominately remembered an experience rather than a toy or some other material thing. Knowing that your son is loved and cared for is the best present you can ever give him!
This month Dr. Andie has been a radio guest on the Walking on Air with Betsy and Sal, Moms the Word with Maura Ridder and Maureen Brown, Denver KLZ 360 AM, and KFAX- Am- San Francisco with Craig Roberts. Also, she appeared on the 10!Show, a NBC TV affiliate station in Philadelphia. The topics discussed were about gratitude, what traditions mean to children during the holidays, and how to handle the holidays with your children if you are separated or divorced. Segments can be listened by going to their websites.
Do you want to hear what's the hot social topic? Or be able to comment on Dr. Andie's blog about all kinds of interesting topics being discussed? Go to www.drandie.com/drandieblog/ and make your "voice" heard on Dr. Andie Says.