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 the purchase of gifts can put financial pressure on parents, leading to greater pressure 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 the Christmas Season before it arrives, the joy of Christmas can end up being lost.

It is useful to remind ourselves that all of 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 constantly in our lives and they are expressed in different ways at different times. Christmas is a specific time of year that tends to trigger these beliefs very strongly.

While wanting to keep our children happy AND wanting to receive the approval of our extended family are lovely ideas, ultimately they are out of our control. Often, trying to attain our child’s happiness and seeking our family’s approval can end up being counter-productive. We end up becoming stressed and feel “disapproved of” in the process of trying to succeed.

Once we accept that we need to let go of trying to keep our family happy and stop looking for their approval, we need to spend some time clarifying how we would love our Christmas to be, so that it is stress-free, both financially and emotionally.

If we don’t take this time to get in touch with our dream Christmas we can be easily swayed to do things that are not aligned with our values and/or financial situation. Other people’s desires can be prioritised in front of our own and the day becomes dissatisfying or painful.

Your Vision of your dream Christmas may include having a budget that you agree to stick to. It may involve clarifying events/ceremonies that you attend or create together as a family to celebrate the season.

It is important to remember the greatest gift we can give and receive at Christmas is each other’s acceptance, presence and happiness. What ever else you choose to do is simply a bonus.

Once you are clear about your own Christmas vision, share it with your partner and children. Ask your immediate family to contribute to your vision while also maintaining the boundaries of what is acceptable for you and what is not. Remember it is not your job to keep anyone happy and you don’t need anyone’s approval to be happy and whole.

So if you would like to address your children’s and other people’s expectations about Christmas you can do the following:

1) Let go of the belief that you should keep your kids happy. Ask yourself:

Out of 10 how strongly are you trying to keep your kids happy at Christmas? Is this serving you or your children? If not, breathe and release this belief.

2) Let go of your need for other’s approval. Ask yourself: Whose approval are you looking for (inside and outside of your family)? Is this serving you or your family? If not, breathe and let this belief go.

3) Clarify your dream Christmas (including a budget)

4) Share your Vision with your family and let them know what Christmas truly means for you. Allow them to contribute to this Vision.

5) Remember the greatest gift you can give to yourself and family at Christmas is your own happiness and integrity. Encourage your own family to be true to themselves around how they would like to celebrate Christmas.


Source by Dixon R Hammer

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