Article written by Gary Direnfeld
The holidays are a season of giving. Many love to watch the joy on someone's face when they open a special gift from you. But for others, this can be stressful. Specifically in separated households where parents can't live as affordably apart as they once could together, your kids might notice a few changes to the festive season. So, how do you breach this money talk with your kids? Learn how you can enjoy a happy holiday without a hefty price tag in the following article.
Preparing the Kids:
When it comes to holiday cut backs post-divorce, sometimes you will need to prepare your kids. But how do you explain that even Santa has to follow a budget?
For young kids, you might be lucky enough to dodge "the talk." The wee ones, certainly five and younger, don't understand the difference in the quality or price of their gifts. They can easily be won over by multiple presents wrapped beneath the tree, even if they were inexpensive finds. It is when kids grow older that you may need to sit them down to discuss a budget-friendly holiday season.
Time for “the talk.”
If you think your children are old enough to notice a change in holiday spending, it may be time for "the talk." In a separated household, parents can have this talk individually with their kids, or else as a co-parenting unit. This in part depends on the relationship between you and your co-parent and whether the issue pertains to one or both of the parent's holiday spending. Either way, it may warrant a joint discussion.
Be mindful of the age of the child. Thoughts of not enough cash can spark fear in your child. They may be kids, but they do still concern themselves with your well-being. Try to explain things at a level the child can understand.
The key is to be respectful of your co-parent.
Limited funds during the holidays shouldn’t devolve into a blame game for financial hardships when the goal is to sort out gift giving. The discussion must remain centered on what you can afford this year. You must also acknowledge if your co-parent is in the same situation. If so, you can decide if you want to have a joint discussion with your kids.
Regardless of whether you broach the subject on your own or as a team, be transparent with your kids. Even adults get anxious when asked to "talk" without any context. Prepare your children by explaining you want to discuss the holiday gift giving this year. That being said, they don't need all the information. There is no need to go into exact details about your finances. Be simple and to the point.
Set a Budget:
After giving your kids a heads up about a more affordable holiday, consider giving them a specific budget. This can help them make requests within your means. Not only does this teach them fiscal management, but their reasonable wishes also help avoid any guilt you might feel by looking at a list you can't afford.
The bottom line is be honest. Be realistic and transparent. Focus on the task and never on blame. Kids are more understanding than we give them credit for. Remember, you can still have a happy holiday without breaking the bank.
All the best for the season.