I want to propose the idea to you, that you stop taking on all the blame and shouldering all the responsibility, your doing the best you can in a complex situation. Let me explain.
“I want never gets.” This was a phrase I grew up hearing from my parents and grandparents. And it’s a phrase you hear less and less today.
I am one of 6 kids and I learned very early on in life to “wait my turn.” Now, for many this may seem like an overly disciplined way to grow up. Oh believe me, I rebelled from time to time. But I appreciate now as an adult and parent that not always getting what I wanted was precisely what I needed.
It has taught me to be grateful for the smallest gestures, to be patient, to be empathetic towards others. And it has also taught me that life is sometimes tough and we don’t always get what we want.
With Christmas fast approaching, this feels like a perfect time to write this blog.
It is hard enough when a child is a child of divorce. Now add to that being a child of post-separation abuse and things get so much more complicated and traumatic.
Not only, is there potentially a family court order in place which sets out where the child/children will spend Christmas but also, all the pressure of feeling the need to give the child/children everything on their Christmas list!
When it comes to what day you celebrate Christmas on with your children, I can only say this.
It is a date in a diary.
If you have to celebrate on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day, or whatever day. Enjoy it as though it’s Christmas Day. A child will only remember the fun and joy they felt rather than the exact date it was celebrated on.
Most parents would say they have a want and need to give their child EVERYTHING they desire. And it is completely that parent’s choice if they do so.
What I am wondering, is that by giving a child everything their heart desires, what are you teaching them? That this is the standard and blueprint for the rest of their lives? The pressure on yourself to always be able to deliver on that promise? And the expectation from the child that they will receive it.
We are in a cost of living crisis and for those parents who are experiencing post-separation abuse, they have so much going on, so adding to that, trying to give their children everything they want can lead to even more problems, financially, emotionally and psychologically.
Post-separation abused parents definitely feel the guilt factor when it comes to pleasing their children. They have been victim blamed by society and now they blame themselves as to the situation that their children are growing up in. They may also feel the need to compete with whatever gifts the perpetrator has promised the children.
The fear a post-separated abused parent feels when they think if they don’t give the child everything they want from expensive gifts to huge parties the child will not want to live with them or have anything to do with them. That fear is real and is beyond devastating to witness.
It is not the abused parent’s fault. It never has been.
The abused parent can believe there is a void in their child’s life, and that it’s their responsibility to fill it. But it doesn’t have to be with gifts and materialistic items. Spending time with them, watching a film together, playing a game. It’s all giving them the time to appreciate what they have. Love.
They may even open up and tell you that they are struggling. There is plenty of support out there for children and young people, you can visit my Resources Page for useful links and support.
Please stop trying to fill a void that can’t be filled with what society and social media tells your child they need.
We can’t remove every problem or obstacle a child faces. Otherwise, as they grow into adults, they will never have the ability to manage situations that come their way.
But what we can do is be there as a support, reminding them they are not alone. Not always bringing expensive gifts and promising them whatever they want to mask what is going on.
I’m not saying don’t give gifts. I’m saying, don’t feel the pressure to buy them everything they want.
We seem to have forgotten the joy of giving a gift. Instead we now focus on what it costs.
At 18 years old, I spent my money I’d earned from my holiday job to buy Christmas presents for all my family. And that’s a lot of presents. Nothing was ridiculously expensive, but I’ll never forget the joy I felt of buying things that mattered to each person and the joy when they opened the gift and knew I had really thought about it.
“The world is a different place now, Anya. You don’t see it. The people don’t seem to care about giving a gift just so they can see the light of happiness in a friend’s eyes.” – Santa Claus the Movie
I hope as we head into December that everyone enjoys the feeling Christmas brings. The gifts will come and go. But the memories and feelings will remain!