Is Christmas different for single parents? Is it more difficult financially or emotionally challenging? Some might answer yes to all those questions. In reality, Christmas for the single parent does not have to be much different than that of a two parent home. The first step in providing a great experience for your child or children, is asking yourself, what can you give your children? Don’t focus on what you can’t provide, any financial struggles or the fact you are the only parent. Focus on what positive experience you can create for your sons/daughters during the Christmas season.
In some families, the focus of Christmas is based on the quantity of the gifts, the type of Christmas dinner or size of the Christmas tree. The focus in your family will be determined by the bar you set or the pressure you put on yourself as a parent. Precedence in your family is determined by you, not by society. It isn’t necessary for the single parent to buy the latest electronic game system or a new flat screen in order for your children to experience a great Christmas. That’s the key to Christmas in your household…what experience will you create? Will you let your children know that there is no money for this or that or will you buy gifts within your budget without focusing on the negative of connotations of … “can’t afford it”?
There are several articles on the web about avoiding pressure and stress during the holidays. Many of these articles have similar advice on avoiding stress and trying to have a pleasant holiday. In my opinion, most people incorrectly believe they have less control over what happens in their family or the amount of stress they wrestle with during the Christmas season. For example, as a parent, you decide how many gifts you CAN AFFORD, not how many gifts your children want. Once you make that decision, adjust your purchases from there. Stay within your allotted budget to avoid more stress over the holiday and still ensure there is money left for Christmas dinner. You may want to explain to the kids ahead of time, for example, that mom or dad has “x” amount of money for gifts this year and “y” amount of money for Christmas dinner. Explain to your kids that while they may not get everything they want, they will still have a wonderful Christmas.
Believe it or not, you as the parent are responsible for creating the negative or positive Christmas experience in your home. Below are a few key things to remember in order to make your child’s Christmas as positive as possible, regardless if you are a single parent going at it alone.
- Explain early to your children regarding the number of gifts they can expect.
- Plan your dinner and stick to it. Too many families try to improvise at the last minute.
- Take your children to free events, such as tree lightings or neighborhoods with lots of decorations.
- Stay positive!! Don’t “mope” around lamenting that you can’t buy your child the PS3 or a Mac computer.
- Give your children lots of hugs and lots of smiles! They take their cues from you and your attitude.
- Finally, remember and teach your children the gratitude that the season should bring.
The Single Parent Christmas experience in your home is what you determine it to be, not what society, stores or other families ideals feel it should be. You don’t have to be a Rockefeller to have a wonderful Christmas. Genuinely enjoy what you are able to give to your children and they will feed off your enthusiasm, honesty and most importantly, your love.