Are Christmas gifts enabling?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by wakeupcall, Nov 23, 2015.

  1. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    Difficult Child has been nothing but ignoring me. He called me for lunch, then stood me up. He only calls or texts if he wants me to do something for him. YET, the mother in me struggles with not buying him gifts for Christmas. Sigh. Wish I could get over it. Is it enabling? He needs a new cell phone (honestly, his is four years old and a hand-me-down), mostly because his keeps non-functioning and then he's on the phone to me complaining. Other than that, he barely speaks. Tell me, is it enabling?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't think it's ensbling. If it were me though I would not get him a fun tou like a cell phone. To call his user friends? I'd get a warm pair of clothed or socks or maybe a gift certificate that can't be cashed in for money. If he's on drugs he could sell a new phone for drug money.
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  3. mtdenise

    mtdenise Member

    I've gotten my son gift cards which I believe he sold to other people for a lesser value just to get cash. If you want to buy a present, buy a grocery order for him. (Heck, I'd love it if someone would buy me food!). I
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  4. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    I buy my son thick warm socks, a warm jumper and new boots each year.

    I don't see it as enabling (and anyway I accept his lifestyle now).

    They're practical, essential gifts that I would like to be able to give to every member of his community and all the homeless people I see on the freezing streets. They also make me worry a bit less about him, so they are selfish gifts too. Most of the year he makes do with nothing, so Christmas is an excuse for me to force something new and useful on him.

    I wouldn't give any frivolous gifts, and anyway he wouldn't want them.
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  5. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Someone said here once that gifts are just that, gifts. There is nothing the person has to do to get them, they are given freely and without strings or reservations. I have to agree with nlj that useful gifts are the way to go. My daughter needs so many things that I am happy I can give her a warm coat and boots at Christmastime.
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  6. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    I think sometimes its a balance between continuing to show your kids you love them and not enabling them. To me Christmas gifts are given out of love and at least in our family are a tradition and so I don't see them as enabling unless they are over the top.... I agree things that are useful are good. I know this year we have done a lot to help my son out financially and so he wont be getting much in the way of gifts but I still plan to send him a package with little things just so he has something to open and to remember his family loves him.
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  7. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I consider gift-giving to be more about the giver than the receiver - it makes me feel good to give gifts. But, having learned my lesson with taking time to pick out thoughtful gifts to my Oldest in particular, only for her to leave them behind in a move, I try to stick to practical/useful gifts as well.
  8. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    I gave my son gifts when he was on the street and in jail etc. I would give him warm clothes, a book and some food gift cards and then a couple of times I mentally earmarked $50 or $100 for later, when things improved, and didn't mention that to him at all.

    Whatever you give to him, let go of the outcome. If he sells it for drugs, then so be it. You can't control what he does. All you can control is what you do, and I'm like you, I wanted to give my son something for christmas and I got pleasure from doing that. It was as much for me as for him.

    Hang in there. Holidays with DCs are harder than regular days.
  9. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    I think there can be a fine line anytime we are dealing with our difficult children. You as the gift giver want to do so out of love for your son. Your son, the gift receiver will receive it in a manner he chooses, which could be he's grateful for the gift or he feels he deserves the gift.

    I agree. I do not expect a thank you however, I also do not expect complaining.

    I have learned with my son to think through the whole process and weigh out the possible outcomes. I have been burned too many times. I did buy my son a cell phone once as I felt he needed one. (it was not for Christmas or birthday) Anyway, he complained that it wasn't the "one he wanted". The one he wanted cost several hundred dollars while the one I purchased was very basic, calling and texting. He would complain about it saying things like "this is the stupidest phone ever" "this phone is a piece of crap" and so on.

    As long as you go in with your eyes wide open then buy the gift you want.

  10. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I do believe it's better to give than receive, so I will give...and always have...a Christmas gift to my son no matter what his circumstance. When he was in "college" and had sold everything of value we'd ever given him to pay for pot, I gave him practical items with little to no value...A big towel with the Insane Clown Posse logo, a banner with a band on it I know he likes for his wall, a couple shirts, and I think maybe a CD. When he was in the homeless shelter, I gave him warm clothing and a $40 gift certificate to Subway.

    This year he's doing better, working and hopefully before Christmas he and his girlfriend will be in their own place. He's actually asked for housewares - a blender for smoothies, dishes, towels, etc. Realistically, we'll get them some stuff from Goodwill right off the bat, but they'll be living pretty sparse for a while. I'll happily buy him a griddle and a blender and some pots and pans. :) He's also mentioned a book and I jokingly suggested an Arby's gift certificate (he works at Arby's) and he LOVED that idea...he has to pay half price for his food - so a $30 gift card will buy $60 worth of food! He wouldn't have to pay out of pocket for his lunches for a long time. It's gratifying to see him being practical.

    I am seriously considering a trac phone. He's been so snobbish that he wouldn't have anything but a smart phone...and he broke now he has nothing but glitch internet from an old phone of mine I gave him. I think a phone - nothing fancy, but one that will make calls so they can look for work, etc., but not be worth anything really, is a good gift. The cheapest trac phone can be had for about $ minutes.
  11. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Yeah...I can see this being the reaction to the cheap trac phone. My response would be, "Then buy your own next time."

    Mine has griped about the crappy internet on my old phone. My response has been something along the lines of, "Then you shouldn't have broken yours. Sorry, that's what I have to give you. Better than nothing."
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  12. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    All of you have great ideas. Does anyone else hate the holidays as much as I do? I feel so pressured and it's gotten SO commercialized. Just not my cup of tea anymore. My mommy heart has to buy him something. I have rejected the idea that he NEEDS an electric razor. I can see him getting $50 at some pawn shop for a new one that I would have paid $90 for.

    This shouldn't be so difficult......
  13. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yes I hated holidays when my daughter was at her worst. I had another daughter and husband so I had to try to make it nice for them, but it was very stressful. I kept reminding myself that it was not my other daughter's fault and it wasn't fair to her to be depressed so I put my happy face on and did the best I could. I always put a lot of effort into choosing gifts for people so it made me feel good when I could get my daughter warm winter clothes and necessities. I also tried to do things differently during those years, start new traditions, so that I wasn't always thinking about the past or how I thought things should be.

    You are not alone, holidays are the most stressful time for families with difficult children. Substance abuse makes it so much worse because doesn't everyone drink and celebrate????
  14. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    I grew up in a family that did not celebrate Christmas. Christians, but my mom walks to a different drummer as far as birthday celebrations....hers, mine, Jesus', does not matter.

    so.....while I am not hardwired as far as having to find presents for others, it has been sad when thinking about our Difficult Child during the holidays.

    This year, as far as I know, he will be alone. It makes me sad to think about it, yet I know he COULD be with others if he would just be nice and treat folks with respect. (and, who knows? Difficult Child may have somebody. I certainly hope so).

    I choose to know nothing because it helps me. Tremendously.

    Someday down the road, I may be happy to know stuff about him again. I would like that.
  15. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Seeking, I subscribe to the motto that what I don't know can't hurt me.
  16. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Nancy, it can come to that. Certainly.
  17. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    I have always loved the holiday's, however there were times that my son made them very unpleasant. One year all of my siblings and their families went to spend Thanksgiving with our parents in the town they retired to. I was really looking forward to it as my family is scattered across the states and all of getting together is rare. My son and my niece wanted to go explore the nearby pecan groves. My parents said it would be fine. About 1/2 hour later my niece came back and said she was not comfortable with what my son was doing. On the way to the pecan grove they came upon a construction site that had stakes in the ground to mark where new homes were going to be built. My son thought it would be "fun" to pull out all the stakes.
    I was furious, so my husband and I were going to go find our son, well as we were getting ready to leave, the county sheriff pulled up with our son in the back of the car. Thankfully the owner of the construction site didn't want to press charges.

    I still love the holiday's but there is always that "uneasy feeling". It's hard to explain; I wish my son would call and I wish my son won't call. My son has never called on a holiday or birthday but I always have that "feeling". While I would love to hear from him I also dread hearing from him because I'm conditioned to it never being good.

    I think it was Cedar or COM who said they light a candle for their Difficult Child and I really like that idea. I'm going to that this year.
  18. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    I'm with you Wakeup! It's the festival of greed.

    The worst thing about Christmas here is the appalling noise that bombards shoppers everywhere from mid-November, awful christmas 'music' at a ridiculous decibel level that makes any shopping expedition a journey into headache-inducing stressful hell.

    Other than that, it's nice to have a couple of weeks off work.

    I don't tend to get sucked into the present-buying insanity of it all. I hate the commercialism and also the unrealistic expectation of a magical time with happy loving families. It's a mirage. Apparently more divorces and family break-ups occur at Christmastime than at any other time of the year. Madness.

    We have a traditional turkey lunch then go to the beach for a walk. It's not surprising how many other people we meet there who are also avoiding all the fuss.

    "Bah humbug!" as Charles Dickens wrote.
  19. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I used to be much more into the holiday. When I was young (20's) and single, I still put a Christmas tree up every year, even when I lived alone. When my son was young, we did tons of holiday stuff...the usual cookies for Santa and surprises. But I think at some point enough is enough.

    Of course, as I said, I'll do something this year for him, but I'm not going to get into the commercial aspect at all. No Black Friday craziness anymore for this girl! I used to do that...but really, I decided long ago my time is too valuable to waste getting up and fighting the crowd. I shop on-line and get the same deals anyway! No, this year and I suspect at least until I have grandkids, we're going to be very low-key and think about the reason for the season and concentrate on my husband and me.

    I'm definitely keeping my expectations low. After the last few years of Christmas disappointments, I have no intention of expecting anything from him other than a Thank You for what I give to him. If I expect nothing then I won't be disappointed.

    I actually did buy my son the $5 trac phone yesterday, along with 60 minutes. Fact is, he needs a phone to call work, call apartments, etc., and I'm going to save money in the long run by him NOT wanting to come over and use ours. He actually showed some gratitude. Is he changing a bit? Time will tell. I'm also taking him and the girlfriend to see an apartment today. I'm sure it's a bit "slummy" but the landlord told him they'd work with them on the deposit and such. I hope it works out; would love to get them moved over the long weekend. Fingers crossed.
  20. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    Lil, I hope you are still on track for Christmas in Vegas. My daughter loves to do the Black Friday shopping thing. I will do a bit of shopping online while watching every sappy movie ever made.
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