This Christmas is going to be very scaled back for us. Our kids are 11 and 9. Is it better to give them some warning? It's not that there won't be anything, just that it won't be as grand as past years. I'm thinking that they are old enough to understand that circumstances have changed -- and could change again! -- but until they do, we need to be prudent.
From: MC, Topeka, KS
I like your attitude. Life is not static, circumstances have changed, and they will likely change again. To be able to impart that to your children is a gift in itself. Truly.
Even though they are 9 and 11, likely can handle an explanation But be careful not to burden them with inappropriate details. For instance, they don't need to know you're conserving because you're in debt. If there's a reason that is obvious -- dad/mom has lost/changed jobs; rising costs -- by all means share it, but basically, it's enough for them to have an idea that this is a year when the family needs to conserve.
Frankly, pretending that that's not the case when it is, or spending what you don't have to spend, only makes matters worse for everyone. It adds more stress for you to be going more into debt, and kids have a knack for picking up on our stress, which means they act out, which means daily life gets more stressful for all of you......
If you can manage one gift for each child, help them to create a wish list that is scaled down so that there will be something for them to anticipate. Maybe this is the year to do something outside the box, like creating new traditions and rituals, volunteering together, or making home-made gifts. Be sure to ask them what ideas they have for scaling back the family spending. Including them in the decision making will not only generate some great ideas, but also get them to buy into whatever changes you make. Sometimes the best holidays are the simplest ones. But you know that.
Readers, have you been through this? What advice do you have?
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