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Guilt & Lofty Expectations: Why Parents Overspend On Holiday Presents

Many parents use their own guilt as a reason they overspend on their children’s holiday presents. The feelings of being overworked, betrayal, ex-spousal competition and divorce are all some of the common reasons parents have when they over-indulge in gift-giving. These guilty feelings combined with lofty expectations from children can make it so the meaning of the holiday is forgotten and impractical amounts of money are spent. NHPSC has put together a list of things you can do to help alleviate the over-spending on holiday presents.

Guilt & Lofty Expectations: Why Parents Overspend On Holiday Presents

holiday presentsThe most important thing a parent should do is to get rid of personal guilt. As a parent, remind yourself that every person deserves to have love and forgiveness. Taking care of yourself and knowing that you deserve the best, is a gift you can give to yourself and the kids. Self-acceptance and self-appreciation are great lessons that shine through from parents to their kids. Giving into your guilt and splurging on gifts will only provide your children, and you, with a fleeting sense of happiness.

Also, keep your children’s gift-receiving expectations in check. Children may want lots of gifts, or a few expensive holiday presents. It can be challenging as a parent to not feel obligated to give in to their every want. Previous studies have shown that using a psychological method called strategic deprivation can help hone in unrealistic expectations. An example of this would be a child that wants ice cream every night before bed. If the parent gives in to the child every night, the ice cream no longer becomes special and becomes more of a habit. However, if the ice cream treat is saved for special occasions, the child will appreciate the treat more. The concept holds true for receiving gifts too. Giving into every want will only exacerbate the child’s wants in the future.

Strategic deprivation works best if parents practice it throughout the year, not just at holidays. Setting suitable expectations is easier to do when the children are younger, and do not have much prior knowledge of over-indulgence. Remember, you are in control. You can decide the amount to spend, the amount to give and the practicality of each gift.

Another thing to consider is talking to the children. Chatting with your kids about their lofty holiday expectations will make it so they know what to expect before the cut-backs happen, making a potentially smoother holiday.

Overall, it is best for you and your children to have an understanding of holiday expectations. Positive parenting techniques combined with open-communication will be a step in the right direction. Continue to check NHPSC’s website for more posts on proactively navigating separation and children.