How to deal with your family’s expectations at Christmas
Christmas can be a very stressful time for families, both financially and emotionally. Expectations around gift buying can put financial pressure on parents, putting further strain on the relationship between partners. Expectations around extended family events and interactions can also contribute to family pressure at this time. If you don’t clarify how you would really like to spend Christmas before it arrives, the joy of Christmas can end up being lost.
It is useful to remind ourselves that all this ‘pressure’ from family, children and media/society is caused by our desire:
To try to keep other people happy and
To gain approval from other people.
Most of us carry these two beliefs around constantly in our lives and they express themselves in different ways at different times. Christmas is a specific time of the year that tends to trigger these beliefs very strongly.
While wanting to keep our children happy AND wanting the approval of our extended family are beautiful ideas, they are ultimately out of our control. Often, trying to make our child happy and seeking approval from our family can end up backfiring. We end up stressed out and feeling “let down” in the process of trying to succeed.
Once we accept that we need to stop trying to keep our family happy and stop seeking their approval, we need to spend some time clarifying how we would like our Christmas to go, so that it is stress-free, both financially and financially. emotionally
If we don’t take advantage of this time to get in touch with the Christmas of our dreams, we can easily be influenced to do things that are not aligned with our values and/or financial situation. Other people’s desires can take precedence over our own and the day becomes unfulfilling or painful.
Your vision of your dream Christmas may include having a budget that you agree to stick to. It may involve clearing up events/ceremonies you attend or create together as a family to celebrate the season.
It is important to remember that the greatest gift we can give and receive at Christmas is the acceptance, presence and happiness of others. Anything else you choose to do is simply a bonus.
Once you have your own Christmas vision clear, share it with your partner and children. Ask your immediate family to contribute to your vision while maintaining the boundaries of what is acceptable to you and what is not. Remember that it’s not your job to keep anyone happy and you don’t need anyone’s approval to be happy and whole.
So if you want to address the expectations of your children and others about Christmas, you can do the following:
1) Let go of the belief that you should keep your children happy. ask yourself:
Out of 10, how hard are you trying to keep your children happy at Christmas? Does this work for you or your children? If not, breathe and release this belief.
2) Let go of your need for the approval of others. Ask yourself: Whose approval do you seek (inside and outside of your family)? Does this work for you or your family? If not, take a breath and let go of this belief.
3) Clarify the Christmas of your dreams (including a budget)
4) Share your Vision with your family and let them know what Christmas really means to you. Let them contribute to this Vision.
5) Remember that the best gift you can give yourself and your family at Christmas is your own happiness and integrity. Encourage your own family to be true to themselves about how they would like to celebrate Christmas.