Q: Our holiday budget looks grim this year. How can we enjoy the Christmas season without stressing about money?
Jim: Times are tough for many families! Hereís some holiday budgeting advice adapted from financial guru Ron Blue:
Donít spend more on Christmas than you can afford. Ideally, you should start planning your spending early in the year, setting aside money for presents. Resist the urge to put big-ticket purchases on your credit card.
Give something of lasting value. Kids donít need big, flashy toys. Try to come up with gift ideas that truly align with their unique interests and personalities - things theyíll use repeatedly, such as books or board games, rather than those that will be cast aside by the end of Christmas Day.
Do something meaningful for someone else. Some of the best gifts involve a simple investment of time. Involve the entire family in doing a good deed for a neighbor or relative.
Focus on spiritual, not material, things. For many, Christmas has become an excuse to worship at the altar of materialism. Even if you donít embrace Christmas as a celebration of Christís birth, you can use it to talk with your kids about the dangers of commercialism.
Give something to yourself. Make a commitment to pay off debt, start an emergency fund or live within your means in the coming year.
Build memories. Look for opportunities to spend meaningful time with your kids during this holiday season. Theyíll remember these moments for the rest of their lives, long after the toys and trinkets have journeyed to the landfill.
Q: We lost our home in a fire last month. My husband and I know we have a long road to recovery, but weíre especially worried about our kids. Will the trauma of this experience impact them long-term?
Leon Wirth, executive director of Parenting and Youth: Weíre sorry for your loss. I personally know that trauma; our family lost a house in a fire five days before Christmas when I was 10 years old. Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster as your kids deal with the aftermath. Here are some suggestions to help them heal:
Keep them in a routine as much as possible. Create a predictable atmosphere of normalcy, perhaps by taking a daily walk or having a regular story time.
Encourage your kids to be honest with their emotions. Donít let them bury their pain and fear inside. Let them know itís OK to be sad.
Accept your kidsí emotions for what they are. Whatever reaction theyíre experiencing is ďnormalĒ for them. For young kids, this often takes the form of acting out. For teens, it may mean becoming more withdrawn.
Donít avoid discussing the loss of your home, but donít obsess about it either. Help your kids explore nonverbal ways of processing the tragedy such as through drawing, painting or journaling.
Provide your kids with opportunities to meet other kids and families who have endured similar traumas.
Be mindful of the way youíre processing your own emotions in their presence. Theyíll take a lot of cues from you. Itís okay for them to know youíre hurting, too, but be aware that your emotions can also be misread and cause a sense of panic or despair unnecessarily.
If your kids are having a particularly difficult time dealing with this loss in the form of persistent and extreme mood swings, nightmares or bad behavior, donít hesitate to seek the assistance of a qualified counselor. The same goes for you and your husband. Contact Focus on the Family (www.focusonthefamily.com) for a free consultation and referral.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
Copyright 2012 Focus On The Family, Colorado Springs, Co 80995
International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved.
Distributed By Universal Uclick
1130 Walnut St. Kansas City, MO 64106