Monday, December 30, 2013

What is Important to Remember When Raising Children at Christmastime…

In a brief phone conversation the other day, one of my siblings said to me:  We’ve been talking about
the best things about Christmas and not ONCE have you mentioned what you GOT for Christmas!

Now, even as when my children were little and growing up, I still love to focus on the GIVING at Christmas and not the GETTING.  I am so happy to see some of my children repeating my tradition of keeping Christmas as simple as possible and focusing on family and giving instead.

Some of the ways I did this and still do this:

Make a way to visit lonely people over the holidays to make them feel special.

Deny yourself to give to others.  Instead of giving more gifts to people who don’t need them, adopt a family in need and focus on giving to them.  One of my favorite things to do at Christmas is help a family through tough times by getting together with them and giving them gifts to give each other.  Involve the youngest family members in this:  this year Tessa (only a few weeks old!) and Alivia (8 months old) were involved!

Let children hand out gifts and not just grab ONTO them!  They need to learn the JOY of giving and will never learn that joy by taking taking taking.

Keep things simple!  Too much Christmas can ruin a child and turn him/her into a MONSTER!  Knowing my family was large and that my children would get way too many gifts without my help, I tried to keep my gifts very simple and geared towards “experiences”:  I would give a ticket to the Ice Capades in March for example, which allowed us to get together in March but didn’t add to the commercial over-indulgences of Christmas. 

Give a magazine subscription to young children that will give throughout the year instead of having more gifts to open.  Give them a ticket to a show.  Make gingerbread houses.  DO something instead of stacking presents!

If your child has gotten way too many things from others, hide them away and bring a few out every month to avoid getting your child used to having way too much stuff.

The WORST thing you can do with little children is making them think that Christmas is supposed to be STACKS of presents for them.  Good luck when they’re teens and their list is a little different!  Try to keep the gift list to three gifts:  as the wise men did! 

If you truly believe it when the Bible says in Acts 20.35 that it is more blessed to give than receive, then make SURE that you are giving WAY MORE than receiving at Christmas time.  Even MORE importantly, be sure your CHILDREN are giving WAY MORE than receiving at Christmas time! 

Children are learning from how your focus is!  Raise and train children who will be contributors and not takers but teaching them early on!  Unfortunately too many parents have the wrong focus and then pass it on to the next generation…  I love to remember that the best gifts Jesus gives His children are things that we can give AWAY:  all the fruit of the Spirit and gifts of the Spirit are things we GIVE!  He knows what makes His children more beautiful!

Take time to give extra toys away to children in need.  Go through your child’s things with him/her and wrap a big bag of extra toys to bring to a shelter, hospital or group in need.  Let your child be part of sharing their overabundance of things.

Challenge:  Avoid materialism in your children starting at a very young age by focusing on things that are more important at Christmas time and throughout the year.   Fight back by focusing on people and events instead of THINGS!