Christmas is coming, and with the holiday season come a range of opportunities for parents to teach their kids valuable life lessons. While it’s easy to see the holidays as celebrations of commercialism and greed or of over-indulgence and avarice, the truth is that Christmas is about family, togetherness and looking to the coming new year with hope and positivity, whatever your faith.
Over the coming weeks you may or may not feel under pressure to spend excessively on your kids, forking out for expensive clothes, toys and games consoles. It’s not abnormal for kids to want the coveted items that their friends either have or want and talk about at school. Parents should neither worry that they’re capitulating to greed if they put these items under the tree for their kids, nor brand themselves callous and unfit if they are unable or choose not to. As ubiquitous as presents, turkey and eggnog may be, there are far more important and life affirming things to the holiday for brilliant parents to share with their kids.
You can’t (and shouldn’t) always get what you want
Kids are adept at coveting. They write long (and to parents, often terrifying) wish lists with no concept of the family’s finances or even in many cases why they want them. While there’s certainly joy in seeing your child unwrap a gift they’ve long coveted, children benefit little from getting everything they want all the time. There’s value in aspiration. It teaches kids to value the things they want when they get them, whereas giving them everything they want all the time will inhibit your kids’ enjoyment of their gifts.
Everything has a price
When children don’t get what they want they have a tendency to react as though their parents are pursuing a personal vendetta against their happiness. If your child has a particularly… ambitious Christmas list it’s worth using this as an opportunity to explain the importance of budgeting in family finances. Explain that cash advance loans and credit cards come at a cost. Explain that everything from the turkey on the table to the presents under the tree has a price and that sometimes they’re in excess of the family’s income. They may not thank you for it now, but the value in helping them grow up into financially aware and responsible adults will make it more than worth it.
They are incredibly lucky
Christmas can be an extremely difficult time for those who do not have the family and togetherness that make the holiday season special. There are a great many who will spend their Christmas day on the streets with empty stomachs. Taking your kids to a shelter or soup kitchen to donate gifts, clothes, food or better yet their time is an extremely effective way of showing your kids just how lucky they are to have what they have this season.
Heart trumps monetary value
It’s an unfortunate truth that many children see more value in monetary expense than in love and caring. Thus, it’s important to show them that putting love, care and effort into making a present is far more valuable than an iPad made in a factory notorious for its suicide rate. Help them to make cards and gifts for their friends or for family members and they’ll gain a unique insight into this.