Holiday Stress, Kids, and Money


Holiday Stress, Kids, and Money

Are the holidays “the most wonderful time of the year” or “the most stressful time of the year”? I have great memories of the holidays as a child.  I couldn’t wait for December to arrive.  However, I have met many people for whom the holidays hold terrible memories of Dad or Mom getting drunk and everyone fighting.

Even though as a kid, I couldn’t wait for the holidays to arrive with all the magic of the lights, the music, beautiful cookies and presents under the tree… parents were not so excited. My mother and father worked very hard to provide for our family and the holidays meant more bills and more stress.  One Christmas Eve, I remember my dad was very depressed.  He had just been laid off and had no other prospects for work.  As a teenager, I was a bit worried about him, but within a few months he found another job.

Sometimes our kids learn more from our failures than our successes.

~ My dad never said a word, but his example spoke loudly to me.  What did I learn, watching him lose his job, get depressed, and then get back up and find another job?

R E S I L I E N C E ~ “the ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune” says the American Heritage Dictionary.

I learned resilience by watching my father fall down and get back up again and again throughout his life.  He had the inner strength to bounce back from life’s hardships.  Years later, when I was laid off from a job, his example was there to guide me and inspired me to start my own private practice.  Hopefully, my example will help my kids someday if they lose a job.

Children learn resilience by watching how their parents deal with misfortune. As much as we need to protect our children from harm, we do them no favor raising them to believe that life should never have any pain, disappointments, or discomfort. Pain and joy are intertwined and inseparable, like it or not.

How will you and your family survive and thrive through all the holiday expectations this year? So much is dependent upon our own expectations.

I’ve heard, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”  Maybe so.  Do I expect Christmas to be wonderful and happy every year?  What if someone we love just died and won’t be with us for anymore holidays? What if we just got divorced and all our usual family traditions have changed?  What if you just lost your job?

Do we really have to spend so much on gifts this year and put more on our credit cards? What would make the holidays the most meaningful for our family this year?  More presents?  Or more good memories of times shared together?  What’s the right balance?

Of course, our kids want lots of gifts and that’s part of the fun.  We enjoy making our kids happy.  And, how might we also teach them that this is the season of giving as well as of receiving?

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