The holidays are a busy time and many children are manipulated in order to receive presents.
I don’t ever like how children are treated differently than adults, but it really frosts me around the holidays.
No one forces adults to do something they don’t want to do. No one asks adults insulting questions.
Respectful Parenting During the Holidays
All children are good.
I don’t buy into the idea of naughty or nice.
I don’t like it when strangers, friends, acquaintances, or relatives ask my kids if they’ve been good this year.
We don’t believe in rewards or punishments. We communicate and discuss emotions and issues. We work through disagreements and big feelings.
All children are good.
I loathe the Elf on a Shelf and all its many variations.
I don’t need spies on my children.
I don’t control or manipulate my kids.
Even a funny and cute bully violates family trust.
There is no good or bad behavior. Behavior is just communication.
I’m really irritated by social media posts and blogs offering parenting advice about throwing empty wrapped presents into the fire or phone calls from “Santa” admonishing kids.
Of course people can buy all the commercial Pinteresting trappings for an Elf or Doll or Toy just for fun and/or change the purpose to be kind and respectful with the mission of charitable calls to action. Bravo and carry on.
I just don’t have time or desire for any of that for 24 days.
Ideas to do instead:
Gifts don’t come with rules.
I remember some really weird and horrific gifts as a kid. I know it was hard for me to say thanks or hide my disappointment.
I remember my mother being horrified and embarrassed and scolding me later. Southern ladies paste on a smile no matter what.
I realize our society expects gratitude for gifts. I encourage my kids to say thanks even if the present is disappointing. We discuss the situation later.
With some very special items, I do offer recommendations to my kids if it might require extra or unique care.
Yes, it’s really hard sometimes to see something used differently than I would choose to use it.
My kids know that a gift is theirs to do whatever they please with it.
- upcycle or repurpose
- throw away
- share or not
- get dirty
Gifts shouldn’t come with conditions.
We don’t believe in taking our children’s possessions away as a punishment. I don’t control my kids with their toys. If they have trouble cleaning up, I help them.
Santa can be scary.
My first child adored Santa and anything that dressed up in a costume. I didn’t question the tradition.
We stopped “doing Santa” when my second child was terrified of him.
I didn’t like her fear. I wasn’t going to subject my young child to sit on a stranger’s lap for a photo opportunity.
I argued with my husband about it. I didn’t want to lie to our children about a fantasy commercialized man who climbs down chimneys with toys. We didn’t even have a chimney for years and had a dumb “Santa Key” from Hallmark.
There is no magic lost. My kids have always loved to read stories about Santa and elves. They’re fairy tales like all the others we love to read.
No forced affection.
I remember being forced into hugs and kisses from aunts, uncles, and cousins. I didn’t like not having control over it. I remember feeling bad for being scolded for not wanting to do it or not appearing happy enough about it.
I try to prepare my kids if and when we visit relatives.
I warn my kids about expectations. I offer my kids alternatives like shaking hands or fist bumps.
I act as a buffer between my children and overbearing adults.
It’s not my or my child’s fault if some grown adult gets her feelings hurt.
Kids own their bodies and can decide for themselves how and when to show affection.
The holidays can be a very busy time.
They don’t have to be.
Consider the natural rhythms of children. Meals, naps, bedtimes schedules are very important for kids.
Most negative behaviors come from disrupting the schedule or not taking kids’ emotions and needs into consideration.
Kids know when they’re hungry and what they like to eat. Don’t force them to try something just to be polite.
Let them open gifts at their own pace or take breaks or even bring the item home to open later.
Let kids help decorate and help make holiday decisions.
Routines need to be a priority. If this means cutting activities, visits, parties short, then the children’s needs should come first.
We can allow ourselves space to be the best parents we can be to our kids.