“But Dad, EVERYONE has the iPhone X!  I don’t understand why I have to keep my old phone. Anyway, Christmas is coming up so can’t you just get it for me then?”.

Parents, does this conversation sound familiar?  The holidays are upon us and while they can bring a season of joy, they often bring stress as well.  Christmas can be an opportune time for your teen to ask for the newest fad or gadget.  While this might be appropriate in some situations, it might also cause financial and emotional burdens for the parents if they are unable to meet the request (or demand in some cases!).  This holiday season, feel more equipped to set boundaries in gifting to your children by considering the following tips.

Presence over Presents.

Choose the gift of an experience WITH your child/teen.  Is there a concert they’ve been wanting to attend?  A weekend trip the whole family could go on?  Would they enjoy a museum or zoo membership that could be used year round?  This is also a season in which volunteer opportunities abound.  Volunteer as a family to serve others in some way during the holiday season.  This is a great way to foster gratitude in children and can help families bond by doing a shared activity!

Set a Financial Limit.

Unfortunately, Christmas has become a time when overspending not only occurs, but is encouraged.  It is challenging to find a balance between surprising your children with special gifts and going overboard financially.  I encourage you to set a budget that works for your family and stick with it.  Your children will likely not get everything on their lists.  That’s okay!  Receiving a thoughtful, special gift can help cultivate gratitude.  Start traditions involving handmade, inexpensive gifts to remind your children how to use their creativity and thoughtfulness for others.

Don’t Sweat It.

There will be possibly be pressure from your child to buy something more extravagant than you planned.  Just because your teen perceives “everyone” to have a certain thing, doesn’t mean they do!  Hold your ground.  You are the parent and they are learning boundaries from you.  This is a great time to teach healthy boundaries and work on them being able to accept “no”, if that is necessary.  Use this as an opportunity to discuss financial responsibility with them.  Talk to them about why you feel it may be inappropriate or unsafe for them to have a revealing outfit or a phone with internet capability.  Ask them to help you choose gifts for others in the family to help teach the importance of your shopping/gifting limits.

Enjoy this joyous season!

I am available for consultation on boundary setting with teens and would love to hear from you!


Ashley Barkley

Licensed Professional Counselor


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