If you are like me, the holidays usher in an assortment of feelings—some warm and fuzzy and some not so much. Every year I vow to chill out on the gifts and focus more on family, friends, and quiet reflection. But before I can get through the first verse of “Silent Night” in my head, I fall off the simplicity wagon and face first into the mud of holiday expectations. There are parties, trips, visitors, and of course, the three-page wish list from my kids that will taunt me like a circus monkey—if I let it.
It’s taken me nearly 19 years of roller coaster holidays to figure out that as a parent, I set the tone, the focus, and the expectation for the holidays. In fact, I own the holidays (if you haven’t heard). I’ve also discovered that my perspective—not my checkbook or my party calendar—determines the amount of peace I experience in my home and on this earth for that matter. See, it can only be a season full of blessing and bounty if your perspective is that you are, indeed, more abundantly blessed than not. From a parenting point of view that means that you are doing more things right than you are doing wrong on this crazy journey.
So to help you celebrate this most wonderful time of the year, here’s a list of 10 things you have already given your kids (no shopping required!) Congratulations on the many, many, many things you are doing right as a parent—and the fact that it hasn’t set you back a penny!
5 Priceless Gifts You Already Give Your Kids Everyday
- The gift of belonging. The time, thought, intention, and emotion you pour into building your home and family really matters. It creates a sense of belonging for your child and that is one of the most precious, priceless gifts you can give. Creating a home where your child feels accepted, secure, and unconditionally loved is the greatest gift you can give.
- The gift of encouragement. My dad rarely missed a sporting event and my mom stayed up many nights helping me make campaign signs that would push me to victory in the latest school election. Kids will rarely thank you for being their personal cheering section (likely because they assume that’s what all parents do but we know better). Still, the consistency of your encouragement will shape their confidence in amazing, incalculable ways.
- The gift of a sense of purpose. By creating opportunities for your child to serve others and experience the feeling of being significant and contributing to the world, you give your child a sense of purpose. Whether you’ve encouraged your child to volunteer, join Scouts, or even use his or her skills to help another person in need, you’ve sparked a unique sense of purpose that will continue to grow.
- The gift of hope and choice. By working hard to provide for your child, making sacrifices, and ensuring his or her education, you give your child the immeasurable (unspoken) gift of hope in his or her life. Because of your choices, you daily unlock greater options, opportunity, and life choices for your child that many children in other regions of the world will never experience.
- The gift of tradition and story. Your kids may not appreciate it now but the family traditions you’ve preserved and created are important. They can be big or small—anything from eating dinner together and practicing religious rituals to recipes or family reunions. Whatever they may be, traditions shape a child’s identity, strengthen the family bond, transmit heritage, and create important generational foundations from which to grow. Closely linked to tradition, is story. One thing that sets your family apart from every other family on the planet is its unique story and the personal memories and accounts that make up that story. Building and sharing our family story helps shape values and morals. It also communicates character traits that become sources of pride for children. Passing on these stories to your kids is priceless and invaluable to future generations.
So feel good this holiday season, parents. Take a moment to sit back, have a hot toddy (or cocoa), and bask in the many things you do right as a parent every single day.
We hope you and your family have a beautiful holiday season and a wonderful new year packed with amazing family moments that money just can’t buy.