By Richard Watts
“. . . and the Grinch sneered down from his mountain above, I’ll infect Christmas in Whoville and disguise it as love. The parents will help me, they won’t have a clue. They’ll shop in line, and online, and when they are through, their kids will complain, ‘Mom didn’t get it right,’ that Santa brought Christmas, almost, but not quite. Then after the presents are spread through the house, Mom will creep to her room timid as a mouse. With a shrug of her shoulders she’ll fight back the tears, and resolve to work overtime, and try harder . . . next year.”
There is a behavior fork in the road for parents that begins at your child’s infancy. You must choose. Placate your children now and pay later, or do the difficult work now and celebrate later. Don’t fool yourself, your child won’t know the difference. Children are unknowing participants in your version of the perfect script, and that script began drafting itself in your own childhood. Parenting is about breaking the chain . . . allowing your own hurts and happiness to provide you the wisdom to guide your children through their unique set of obstacles in search of discovering their passion in life. It is only there, they will find self-pride. Let them yearn, earn, and learn on their own. They will love you for this gift.
Stop over-indulging your kids! Leave them alone. Let them play. Imagination is the nuclear fuel of the mind. Harness it and your kids will light up a world. Try to contain or redirect it according to your design, and they will melt down. Your kids are not a hobby. You need to equip them for the tough journey ahead and that translates to standing by as a loving witness to your child’s periodic unhappiness. Life is full of struggle, disappointment, and setbacks. Was it your intention to be there for every one? To make sure they didn’t stumble? In rehab they label that codependency. When did we decide being our child’s best friend is more important than teaching our kids the difficult lessons of life? Why aren’t we strong enough as parents to accept that our children may not like everything we teach them? It is time to push the little eaglets out of the nest. Children are guests in your home anyway. And you will never be more proud than when they spread their wings on their own and begin to soar! Watching your children experience their own pride will the greatest present you can ask for.Be creative this year at Christmas. Practice having less. The most helpful tool available in keeping your sanity in the presence of so many “things,” is to practice not having. It hurts. And you may believe it will crush your kids. Were you crushed as a child when you didn’t get something, or did it make you want it more? Did you find a way to have it? Are you proud of finally getting it? Don’t steal that same memory from your kid’s future. Kind of Grinch-like, wouldn’t you say?
Instead of a gift receipt, create an experience for your children this year. Entitling your children usually stems from giving them “things.” Experiences are safer. Invest in memories. That will require intentionality and more of your time. You don’t have any more time, right? Did someone forget to tell you parenting is often times exhausting and unappreciated?
Try this. Go buy ten holiday fleece lap blankets. On sale they run about $3.00 each. Call a retirement center in your area. Invite yourself to go there with your kids. Have your kids unfold the blankets one at a time and place them across the lap of an eighty-year-old woman who only sees her family once a year, and tell her she matters. Put a blanket over the shoulders of a ninety-year-old man who flew jets in World War II, and tell him thank you. Experience the joy of an elderly couple who, for a moment in seeing your children’s youth, reminds them of a time long ago, and whose eyes water with joy. Your children will see Christmas in their eyes. And those they touch will see Christmas in your children. Trust me, I started with ten blankets twelve years ago, and we give out over a thousand each year. We call it Blessings and Blankets and the franchise is free.
Before you take away the pain of your child’s struggle or misfortune, consider the benefit they might receive from your willingness to listen, love, discuss, and provide a memorable experience in lieu of handing over your wallet and a carload of Christmas presents.
So remember the Grinch and Whoville . . . “It isn’t about presents, or things, or roast beast. It’s not who has the most . . . but who needs the least.”
Richard Watts is the author of Entitlemania: How Not to Spoil Your Kids, and What To Do If You Have, set for release on January 3, 2017 and currently available for pre-order via Amazon. Learn more at www.entitlemania.com