Do you want to ruin Christmas for your children? Of course not! That said, there are probably five ways that you are doing it right now.

Although songs proclaim the Christmas season to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” for some folks it is a mix of stress, unease and frustration. For the parent who experiences these feelings, it is easy to pass them on to the kids. To help us gain a bit of perspective as the season is taking off, here are five ways to ruin Christmas for your kids – if you are not careful.

  1. Turn every opportunity into a command performance. In other words, you attend every opportunity to put some holiday cheer into your already packed calendar. Drag tired children to nativity scene walks, convalescent home visits and tree lighting ceremonies at city hall – all in one night; preferably, after they did homework and attended soccer practice for three hours.
  2. Become the authority on holiday enjoyment. You just know that junior cannot possibly enjoy the holiday season unless he has sat on a mall Santa’s lap, watched “Elf” (at least twice) and eaten Christmas Stollen. But you are busy and so you add these outings when they fit into your schedule, which does not really work for junior. As you complain and get more and more stressed to make it all happen, junior somehow does not seem to enjoy himself.
  3. Hold grudges and discuss them at the family dinner. Nothing turns your child off from visiting family for the holidays more than sitting through a dinner where grievances are aired, bickering breaks out and those not present are gossiped about.
  4. Spend like there is no tomorrow. Buy your kids every item on their wish lists. Next, buy expensive perfumes and similar items for teachers, in-laws and everyone else whom you want to remember this holiday season. Max out your credit cards, go into debt and do not worry about such things as the rent or the light bill. Come January, you and your spouse will be at each other’s throats about the lack of income, planning and foresight. And, of course, the kids hear every word.
  5. Put God on the backburner. Between baking, gift-wrapping, shopping and visiting, who has time for God? Put your quiet times on hold, stop reading your Bible and pray seconds before you drift off to sleep. As you do so, your spirituality sinks to an all-time low, which does precious little for family unity. Children, who are by nature hypocrisy detectors, will begin to equate Christmas with busyness but not spirituality.