Handling the tough decisions

December 13, 1991|By Mary Maushard

DESPITE good intentions, careful planning and firm decisions, parents may still have a tough time with the holidays, especially this year. Here are some strategies for handling difficult Christmas situations at home:

* Give Santa a social conscience. If Santa will be bringing fewer or smaller presents than he has in Christmases past, you can prepare youngsters by telling them that there is less for everyone this year. Advise youngsters to make a short wish list because Santa just won't be able to deal with a long one.

* If an older child really wants an item that the family cannot afford, let him figure out ways to get it. Offer to contribute however much you would spend on his gifts toward the item and let him make up the difference.

* Peer pressure is especially hard to deal with. Stress how you make decisions and spend money in your family and that other families do things differently. Again, if a child wants something badly enough, help him figure out ways to earn and save money for it.

* As parents, make thoughtful decisions and be at peace with them. "If we are doing the very best we can . . . we have to be positive," says Frances Bond of Towson State University. "Make a decision and stick with it. There is no such thing as a parent without guilt. But over-spending will make you feel worse in the long run."

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