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Dear Santa: I Want, I Want, I Want
Report to Moderator Old 06-02-2002 09:38 PM
MMC Editor
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Replies: 0
By Kris Kringle

Dear Santa,

Don't bring my kids anything this year. I am sick of hearing their expectations for this or that. I have three kids a daughter, who is fourteen and two sons: one is eight and the other is ten. They are good kids, for the most part, but it seems that over the last couple of years they have grown to be very selfish. Christmas is like a big payday to them. And I cannot allow that to happen anymore. This year, we're going to just donate all of the money we would have spent on Christmas to some charity and do without all the expectations.

Paul M. -- Salt Lake City, Utah

Well, what took you so long?

The behavior these kids are demonstrating is probably nothing new. It's just that we find ways to overlook it when they are three or four or five years old. But when they reach their pre-teen years we put our foot down with a sense of indignation. "By golly", we say to ourselves, "no kid of mine is going to be this selfish".

Now you find yourself on the spot. Can they be taught? Don't you risk alienating your kids by going cold turkey the other way when it comes to Christmas?

The answer to both of these questions is yes. It just depends upon maturity level. Not theirs but yours.

Your kids are bright. They're smart. And they deserve to be recognized for having minds and independent abilities to choose. So be very careful when imposing a change this holiday season. You would be wise to share your observations with them and then solicit their ideas in changing the situation. If you can get them to acknowledge the problem, they will provide the solution.

Be very careful not to assess blame or to find fault. Legends abound of Christmas charity and goodwill to men. They don't have to be in the Salvation Army to acknowledge the good it does. (But service on some level doesn't hurt either). And trying to sway them with guilt may only intensify feelings of bitterness.

I would not suggest doing away with their expectations entirely. But, instead, I would focus on engaging in the unexpected. Surprise them. Try new traditions or suggest different activities that promote the values of selflessness. Give your kids the benefit of the doubt. They may pick up those attributes quicker than you realize.

And next year, don't wait until Christmas to do something about it. Values whether they are good or bad are reinforced year round. Perhaps what you see in such abundance at Christmas is really just the manifestation of what resides there year round.
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