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Avoiding let-downs if you can't give your kids the Christmas they deserve

Last Updated Apr 26, 2016 at 6:59 am PDT

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Explain to your kids what to expect this Christmas and why, recommends a UBC expert

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – This can be one of the happiest times of the year for many people, but not everyone is able to give their kids the Christmas they want and deserve.

And that can be a pretty helpless feeling, says Dr. Jehannine Austin, an associate professor of psychiatry at UBC.

“That can be really difficult for parents because, of course, parents do want to be able to give their kids everything. But sometimes that’s just not possible and having honest conversations about it can help,” says Austin.

There are lots of financial reasons for which you may not be able to give your kids exactly what they want. And while it’s not an easy subject to bring up, having that conversation is the best way to go.

“That can be really… disappointing for the parents,” says Austin. She says explaining that goes a long way towards understanding.

“[Explain to your kids] how it’s important to you in the place and time that you’re at in your life to try to reduce your debt or aim to be living debt-free, for example. Maybe you’re watching your finances so you can give more to those who are less fortunate. Talk to your kids about that, too. Or, if your focus is to give fewer gifts with the idea being that you have more time and money to spend together on experiences, then talking about that as well as a family [is important].”

Kids can be surprisingly understanding during that conversation.

“Making sure the expectations are established up front is helpful and really, communication is key. Having those open conversations, depending on the age of your children, can be really useful,” says Austin.

Explain the reality of the situation; that way, there will be no sudden let downs for them, which will make it easier on you.

Editor’s note: Dr. Jehannine Austin would like to acknowledge the blog thefrugalgirl.com for inspiring some of her ideas and comments