Pressure and expectations

Consider ways in which you and your children can share the love, the hope and the goodwill that underlies Christmas. Photo: Getty Images
Consider ways in which you and your children can share the love, the hope and the goodwill that underlies Christmas. Photo: Getty Images

Parenting columnist Ian Munro shares some advice on making the best of the silly season.

Here we go again. One week to Christmas and all those pressures and expectations are mounting. Still a few cards to get out, the last of the present shopping to be done and you’re still wondering just what, and maybe even how, you’re going to feed people.

You might empathise with one parent’s wish to have a third if not a fourth hand, for your batteries to last longer than your children’s, to have a special Christmas parenting manual, to be able to develop patience as your strongest value, and for a day to last 48 hours so you can get eight hours of sleep and still have enough time to do everything else.

If you’re reaching the point where you’ve had it over your head with the Christmas rat race, maybe it’s time to reassess what Christmas is really all about and how you can make it more meaningful for the family.

Start with the Christmas message. Consider ways in which you and your children can share the love, the hope and the goodwill that underlies this December festival.

Help your children develop an awareness of others who might be more in need than they are, of people who have no family and are alone at this time of the year. This opens the way for:

inviting someone from outside the family to dinner

• placing gifts under a community Christmas tree

• contributing to food banks

• making small, personal gifts

• contributing towards the needs of an overseas village.

See if, this Christmas, the family can decide on a different approach for the next. Perhaps by beginning a Christmas savings scheme to which all contribute according to age and ability for something that will be given to others. Then make shopping for food or toy bank contributions, or the decision about an overseas contribution, a family affair.

Consider ways in which you can make the time more peaceful and more loving for the family and be prepared, as a family, to make what might be some hard decisions to achieve this. This could mean a smaller celebration or a shared lunch; it could mean only one present for each child and none for the adults; it could mean a series of personal phone calls in the week before Christmas instead of an impersonal Christmas card or email; and so on.Your love and your time and your example of goodwill, and perhaps some forgiveness where necessary, are the best presents you can give any child.

After all, when it comes down to it, these things are what Christmas is really about.

Have a great festive season.

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