Canceling Christmas...has anyone done this?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Hanging-On, Dec 13, 2007.

  1. Hanging-On

    Hanging-On New Member

    The boys have just been awful to me, and at the same time demanding this toy and that thing. Every morning easy child & I wake up together, and we have a pleasant morning. He's sweet and we talk "normally" as usual. THEN difficult child gets up, and the entire house changes. Everything he says is either a complaint, a demand, an insult, a name calling, or cussing. I haven't gone a morning without being called some nasty name. I try real hard not to let it bother me, and I even did positive affrimations to myself in my head while driving us into to town yeserday. Well easy child chances the second difficult child is around. easy child copies him, and it's not good. Last night was just awful. They totally ignored me when I told them to stop, they laughed at me when I warned of consequences, and laughed at me when the consequences were then given out. AND easy child even said, "Shut-up B..." :nonono: :nonono: I was totally shocked. That is not easy child, that is completely learned from difficult child. Well, easy child got his first soap in the mouth (which I think really sank in). easy child is pretty good at remembering a bad experience like that. So I'm hoping it will last for a while. (I know it won't last forever.)

    Well difficult child would not stop, and he would not stop laughing at me and taking everything (including me) as a joke. So I kept warning him that he'd lose the previledge of going to the christmas party (at his BMS office, and he'd lose out on any gifts). Well 2 hrs of me giving him chance after chance (cuz I really didn't want to take it away from him), I finally said this is it. I told him that he had a choice, he could either listen and behave and go to the party today, or he could continue like he is and I'd cancel the party for him. Well, even that didn't work. So the party is canceled.

    Then, they both continued for another 2 hrs. And I told them that if they didn't stop I'd cancel CHRISTMAS. Yep, you guessed it. That didn't do anything, the cussing and name calling continued, and Christmas is officially canceled in our house. All decorations were removed last night, and I'm not buying one thing this year. I can't continue to be treated this way, and then be expected to buy them stuff just becuase of a date or because they want something.

    Somehow they have to get it through their heads that I'm not going to be treated like dirt, and called FB, Ugly B, etc., and then expect me to buy them things.

    Has anyone done this? I feel sad and bad about this, but enough is enough. And what's really bad is that easy child is learning all of this from difficult child.

    Thanks for the vent.
  2. Hanging-On

    Hanging-On New Member

    Oh and I even thought of trying to make this into a lesson for them by taking all the presents they've recieved from family, etc. and have "THEM" hand them to some really poor child who would really appreciate it. Hopefully seeing the smile on some other kid's face when they handed over their presents would make an impression about what Christmas is really about. My thought process was something like that.
  3. isisdrms

    isisdrms New Member

    I am sorry that the boys are being so disrepectful and hateful. As to your question...yes...I have cancelled Christmas. About 4-5 years ago, difficult child was verbally and physically abusive. Like you, I warned him and gave him every chance...and then finally I snapped. I took down all the decorations and the tree. Since I'd already bought some gifts, difficult child received them but it was no where what he was used to. It absolutely got his attention.

    It seems that Christmas is always a very anxious and hard time for difficult child. Most of his acting out came out during this time. It stopped about 3 years ago this day...difficult child still gets anxious and a little crabby. Have you notice that with yours?

    Hang in there and don't back down. You dont deserve treatment like that.

  4. Hanging-On

    Hanging-On New Member

    Thanks for the reply. Yes, I've seen an increase in behavior and hyperactivity and both of their care givers of seen it in ALL the kids they take care of. Mostly more hyper, but yes an increase in bad behavior.

    difficult child's BMSP called and said he'll stand by me 100% on this decision. I told him everything, and he was adament that they shouldn't be calling me all those names and he agreed that easy child is learning it from difficult child. I also told him about my idea of them giving their gifts to some poor homeless boy(s) in a shelter, and he said his son volunteers at the shelter here in town and he'd ask him if there was a family there. He also said he thought my idea would be a great learning lessons for them. I told him I wanted them to see that there are kids who are not only poorer then them, but also without a home and that receiving something on christmas would make them happy. I hope it sinks into them that gifts "ARE NOT A PERSONAL RIGHT"!!!, but a special thing from someone.
  5. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Go mom.

    I know it hurts and its hard, but sounds like Christmas is passing some boys this year, and I say kudos to you.

    difficult child 1 was very entitled and I recall the year he desperately wanted a particular brand and style of boot. I kept telling him that if he got that, that would pretty much be it, because they were very expensive. He didn't care, the list went on.

    He got the boots and 2 or 3 very small presents. It still breaks my heart to remember that day, because we handed him his gifts and the look on his face....and he said "that's it?".

    Yes, son, that's it.

    It made an impact at least on his gift lists and infinite expectations from me. It was probably my hardest Christmas ever, but it needed to be done, and it worked.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I would use something else. I'd never cancel Christmas, which, to us, is a religious holiday as well as a celebration. It wouldn't matter what had happened before that day--I wouldn't punish in that way. I would also take the mental illness he has into account. He is obviously unstable. Looking at the diagnosis. of your kids, especially the eight year old is a little guy who has to live with so many disabilities...maybe I"m a softie. I don't think it will teach them anything. They need help--I don't believe it is personal against you. Many kids with stimulation problems and mental and neurological disorders just do poorly this time of year, as others have said. I'm not convinced they can prevent the behavior or in my opinion it wouldn't be so universal with "different" kids. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)/not otherwise specified plus a mood disorder--wow. Think about it. That's a lot for one little guy to deal with, and then there's all this Christmas hype and it's not a religious holiday anymore, it's a circus... If it were me I'd punish another way on another day. And I'd be checking in with whatever doctor is treating them. JMO
  7. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think there is a fine line between allowing some wiggle room for whatever mental illness in going on, and putting with your kids abusing you (name-calling is abuse as far as i'm concerned). Each of us has to decide for ourselves where that line is. Mental illness doesn't necessarily excuse bad behavior all the time. My girls can both be etxtremely manipulative, no matter what their diagnoses may be.

    I agree with your decision, and think it's especially important that you carry out your threat at this point, or you lose credibility.

    You can certainly keep the spiritual/religious part of Christmas alive without giving gifts and encouraging greed. You're not cancelling Christmas really, you're just cancelling the gift exchange. You could still go to church, sing carols, have a family dinner, etc. A year of giving to others instead of each other, would be a valuable lesson.
  8. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Sorry, I can see taking Christmas from an older teen, but not a little one. Your one son is only 5 years old. The other is only 8. They're awfully young to even remotely connect calling you names with Santa not coming. What reason would they have for ever behaving if something as big and important as Christmas is removed from their lives.

    You have a child who is truly not in control of himself. Yes, he's not nice and there are immediate consequences that can be doled out for disrespect, etc. Taking away Christmases, birthdays, vacations and the like will, in my opinion, only hurt you more in the long run. I doubt either of your sons will ever forgive you for this.

    I hope you reconsider and let Santa come and give them Christmas back. It will be a lot of work, but could be very magical if you put the tree and at least some of the decorations back on Christmas Eve. If you got them a lot of gifts, it certainly wouldn't hurt if many of those were returned and leave just the necessities (clothes, undies, etc.) and one toy for each of them. Please don't do something you will ultimately regret.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I think you need to avoid any possibility of this being seen as vengeance. Children, especially very young children and very difficult child children, are very immediate. Christmas is still too far away for the lack of Christmas cheer to connect with bad behaviour. All they will see is an adult who has control over their lives, exerting that control for its own sake.

    I agree you need to do something about the disrespect, but for now, they see it as a game. Your reactions are a part of that game and they keep playing, not knowing any better.

    Is anything you do, stopping this behaviour? No? Then might I tentatively suggest that you shouldn't be engaging in a battle in which you are not winning?

    My alternative suggestion for managing this - totally ignore their existence while they are being rude to you. At their age they rely on you for a great deal, especially food. I suggest that to make this more immediate, you plan a special meal for you and whoever IS behaving in the house, maybe a favourite of yours that the kids don't like. (make sure, on the quiet, that you have some food available for them; something basic).

    Then go ahead and lovingly prepare your meal, with just enough serves for the good people. The bad ones can look after themselves, don't make them take a bath or shower, don't make them get into their pyjamas, don't do anything (except make sure they aren't diving into a crate of glass off the top of the cupboard). Act as if you are alone in the house and they are somewhere else.

    I suspect it won't get too far. You need to stay totally calm through this, do not engage at all in any of their insults. You need to be a star quality actor.

    They do need you. They rely on you far more than you realise and perhaps a lot more than they care to admit. Right now, they are relying on you to play their silly little name-calling game, you have become a source of naughty amusement to them. So if you stop playing and totally ignore them, as they realise that their evening routine has been forgotten at first they may get excited. "We can go to bed without changing out of our day clothes!"
    Let them. It won't feel right and they won't sleep well.
    But food is the big clincher. As mothers, they take for granted that we will be there to feed them, whatever happens. But a mother only feeds her own chicks, she doesn't feed the noisy, scolding, marauding hooligans from the nest in the next tree.

    If your children speak to you politely, answer politely. But if they are rude to you, walk away from them. Leave the room. Go read a book, put your feet up. Make a point of relaxing. Go and do some gardening. Sing to yourself. Put on some music of your choice, maybe, something you know is not their taste.

    It could get ugly for a while, but keep cool. When you sit down to eat your dinner, make a point of acting as if you are alone and enjoying a nice meal. Read a book while you eat. About this time, the game will stop being fun for them. I suspect easy child will crack first, and as soon as you get an apology for the name-calling, produce a meal. Nothing fancy, because you need time to prepare a nice meal and you have been on strike all afternoon. If you CAN give them something they like that is quick and easy, then do it. But only after they voluntarily apologise. If they apologise, relent. But don't lecture. Your point should by now have been made more effective by your silence.

    If there is still a stand-off - get yourself ready for bed. Shower. Change. Follow your evening routine. Turn out the lights. If they turn the lights back on, turn them off. If they continue, then go to the fuse box and remove the fuses from the light circuits.

    If you absolutely HAVE to engage, for example if they grab your legs and don't let you move, you say, "Who are you? You don't live in this house. I don't know who you are, you are strangers to me." (Yes, I know this is another game, but this is YOUR game, on your terms).
    Of course they will clamour, "You are our mother! I am your child!"

    You make a point of loving/hating THE BEHAVIOUR, but at this age they don't always connect. This can be the fastest way for them to get the message.

    If your child then comes back and gets upset, apologises for being rude etc, then you can say, "I am so glad you are back. I missed you while you were gone, the other children that were here were not very kind."

    Whatever you do with discipline, you need to make it firm, immediate and effective. Do not keep making threats which you take ages to carry out. Therefore, do not make threats you are not prepared to carry out. Better yet, if you can do this without making threats at all - great.

    I remember getting my mouth soaped out. My mother made extra sure to get the message across, by dragging the soap against my teeth, so soap piled up behind my teeth in lumps and stayed in my mouth. I have absolutely no recollection of what I said to her. I do know she threatened soaping for 'bad language' (such as saying 'shut up' even to my sisters) and only carried it out after what she felt was extreme provocation. But if I had been that bad, why can I only remember the punishment, and not the crime? For a punishment to be effective, you need to be able to connect it back to the crime. Otherwise, you will keep making the same mistake over and over.

    Your child may remember the soaping, but not why. This means (sorry!) that the soaping was ineffective as punishment, even though it was immediate.

    Too often we think of parenting and discipline in terms of punishment. The aim gets lost. And the aim is to teach them that this behaviour is unacceptable.
    With a difficult child and with a very young child, we can't expect perfection, even though that may be our long-term goal. You need to understand the child and where they are coming from; difficult child 3 sometimes says appalling things purely as the result of extreme anxiety; I wait until he is less anxious and then tell him that his behaviour before was hurtful. This is what works best for us. If I react badly to bad words spoken out of anxiety, then all I am doing is escalating the anxiety and making the behaviour worse. By letting him calm down first, I am giving him the chance to learn self-control.

    We need to choose our battles and fight them well. If we can turn a battle into diplomacy, so much the better.

  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I agree. Totally. An older teen, but not a little child. Kids who don't have disorders don't act the way these kids do. They can't "learn" until they are medically stable. It won't be a better year or a better life for the kids if they miss the spirit of Christmas. What kids aren't greedy at ages five and eight???? And, heck, even teens. They want everything they see. They can't have everything they want, but I do think almost all especially young kids are greedy at Christmas. They think Santa gives them presents, not us. I would not go there. in my opinion you lose credibility more when you go overboard on punishments than when you discipline in a more reasonable way. These aren't "bad" kids. They are kids with neurological disorders--one is on the autism spectrum--they are different and it does matter that they have these disorders. They wouldn't be acting that way if they were normal kids. Something exciting like Christmas wouldn't make them so overstimulated that they'd act out. I think it's cruel and unfair to actually punish on Christmas. They're going to really think they're "bad" kids to miss Christmas, and they really aren't bad--they're kids who sometimes seem "bad" because they need help. So I guess I'll agree to disagree with those who would actually go through with this, especially in kids so young and with such severe problems. JMO :smile:
  11. Hanging-On

    Hanging-On New Member

    Thanks for the replies. But difficult child doesn't "get it" unless it's extreme. And since easy child is following along with difficult child, then he's not getting it either. I disagree with the thought of "their disabled, so they can't control themselves". I TOTALLY disagree with that, and I'm not raising them like their disabled. I've seen first hand what that type of pandering and looking the other way and not being firm does to people like this. I've seen what it has done to their bio-dad, and he's in prison maybe for good (and he STILL has the attitude that nothing is his fault and that society owes him and that it's his mom's responsibility to get him out (and she's lost one home already, and she's selling her small investment land just to please him)and he's NEVER pleased with anything she has done. she has neve said no to him, and she's driven into his head that he's incapable of his actions because of this and that). There is NO way I'm going to stand by and let my kids get away with stuff just because their disabled. I work with a disabled man who's in a wheel chair, and he drives a normal BMW sedan. I was shocked to watch him get in by himself, fold the wheelchair by himself etc. He told me that the doctors told him that he has to do EVERYTHING for himself, and not to expect to be treated differntly just because his legs don't work. THIS is how I want to raise my kids. That they are not going to get special treatment, and special chances just because they have a disorder. That to me is more a disservice to them then making them stand on their own and take responsibility for themselves.

    Marguarite. I have done everything you wrote before, and it didn't work. It's not extreme enough to get their attention. And they don't care if they sleep in their clothes and they sleep just fine.

    Maybe I'm a mean mom, but THEY ARE going to learn a lesson. I've already told them that x-mas morning we're going to the shelter to hand out gifts. We're going to church, we're doing the spiritual things that are important, but no gifts in our house. And Santa isn't coming becuase they think I have his phone number. difficult child some how came up with that thought years ago, and he swears by it.

    And I have done the no x-mas decorations until x-mas eve and they were asleep. When they wake up they think Santa came and did all of that.

    I also believe that giving them gifts unexpectantly when they're not expecting it is more special then giving a gift just because it's a holiday and that's what sociey says you're suppose to do. I know that the gifts given to me for no reason, on no important day are more special and important to me than the ones on x-mas and birthdays. (So maybe I'm weird.) And I surprise them all year with these types of gifts that are given just because I love you and want you to have this.

    So maybe Santa will come and leave a card or small something under a "1" foot tree. Who knows. What I do know, is that they ARE going to church and they are going to the shelter and help hand out gifts.
  12. Janna

    Janna New Member


    I haven't ever cancelled Christmas, but truthfully, thinking back to Dylan being your difficult child's age (and your difficult child's history and diagnosis'es are SO close to Dylan's, wow), yeah, there were times I'd have liked to.

    Here's my take. Christmas isn't about gifts and what you buy. Maybe you don't need to cancel Christmas, but you can cancel all the hype that goes along with it.

    So, yeah, take them to church. Maybe take them to the library, get some books on what Christmas is about, read to them. Do things on Christmas Day that are about the true meaning of Christmas, minus the gifts. That way, they are learning what it means, still getting the day with you and you are still feeling somewhat satisfied by not giving in to them with gifts.

    I'm sorry you're going through what you're going through. I was lucky to save my easy child from all the Dylan antics. I don't truthfully know how I did it. I was lucky, really, is all it was. I think alot of the better of easy child is coming out, too, now that Dylan is in Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) and honestly, it's helped alot. Maybe something for you to consider some time.

    I hope you get a glimmer of enjoyment out of your holiday, some how, some way.

  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Not at 8 years old. At 21.... yes.
  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I've always been one strict Mom.

    But I have to say I wouldn't. Maybe have a direct punishment before and after the day, but Christmas should stay Christmas. It happens only once a year.

    These are not teens. They are young children. One with serious issues, the other too young to realize that copying brother is NOT a good idea.

    Cut out the hype, certainly. (might help tone things down some) Cut back on presents, sure. But I wouldn't take it from them completely. You only get 1 Christmas a year.

    The holidays always brought out the worst in Travis til I learned how to tone it down to where he could handle them better. Still even then there were times when he could all but drive me over the edge. But taking his Christmas from him never once entered my mind.

    I don't think they're even old enough to "get" the message you hope to send.

  15. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    These are boys age 8 with what looks like a list of 6 neurological disorders and a 4.5 year old? No chance, I wouldn't be cancelling Christmas. With that kind of diagnosis it would be far more surprising if he DIDN'T act out this time of year. They can hardly handle it on a regular day but then we go and impose this one month a year frenzy upon them that they can't escape whereever they go...and then we expect them to handle it?

    Instead of cancelling Christmas it sounds like family therapy, wrap around services, a medication adjustment and a trip to see a pediatric neurologist for a workup if that hasn't happened recently are more in order. Like Daisylover, I feel Christmas is Christmas.
  16. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I'm truly sorry you feel you are doing the right thing. I do understand your son needing drastic measures to get a message but, to me, this borders on cruel. Yes, I understand you are still planning on doing some things and it's good that charity is part of those plans. They were always a part of Christmas in my home. But to remove all decorations, to say there will be no Christmas, I'm sorry but I think you've gone too far. Even more importantly, I truly believe both boys will always remember what you did (not why you did it -- they're really too young to connect those dots and when they get older, they're not going to care why just that Christmas was taken away by mom) and may never forgive you for it. I hope I'm wrong.

    I wish you the best in this. I obviously don't agree but I hope it works out the way you want.
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Taking away Christmas doesn't mean they're going to "get it." They ARE disabled and in my opinion they need different types of parenting. I have a son on the autism spectrum, and they don't think the way we do. Treating them like they do in my opinion will not work. I'm being blunt because it's true. Even easy child's act up at Christmas time. Ask any teacher. It's harder for kids with inherent control issues and a bit of parental denial at the severity of the children's disabilities and ability to control themselves. With help, they can learn to control themselves, but help is NOT this form of discipline--it's help and appropriate discipline that they understand. My Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified son was out of control at one time, but he is doing great now. Is your son getting lots of interventnions in school? More than focusing on the "bad" I'd focus on getting them more stablized. You sound really stressed and I do feel that family therapy would be a better solution than taking away something like Christmas. You aren't being "soft" if you keep Christmas, and get these little guys more help. They obviously aren't getting enough of it--perhaps you need to focus on school interventions, medications, and a neuropsychologist exam with suggestions on how to get them help. And please don't compare them to bio. dad--being mad at them because of him. THey aren't him and you're not his mom. in my opinion you won't see a change in your kids because you do this. You asked for opinions and this is my opinion.
  18. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    With the age of your boys and the dxs of difficult child, I don't believe I would be cancelling Christmas. I would be taking serious consequence action, but not cancelling the holiday. In my opinion, it is not unusual that our difficult child's act out more this time of the year. They are young and difficult child has a miriad of disorders that he is dealing with.

    I totally understand your not wanting to take the verbal abuse anymore. But, in my humble opinion, I would'nt remove the holiday. It's also about a lot more than gifts for our family.

  19. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    I have thought about it more than once with my boys too...but not when they quite as young as yours. Ok, maybe I thought about it back then, I cant really remember. I know I didnt ever do it even when I got so furious that I tossed the fully decorated tree out the front door on them.

    I never had the guts or whatever it is to take away holidays as a punishment. Even in all the placements Cory had they didnt do that. They may not get to go home, they may have to stay on campus, get on site visits with family, paired down lists...but there was always a holiday.

    I understand about what you are saying about not wanting them to use their disability as an excuse. I believe the same thing. I am adamant that bipolar is not a get out of jail free card. It is not an excuse of bad behavior...most of the time. I use that caveat because it can be an explanation for some behavior some of the time...not an excuse but an explanation. There is a difference.

    Your boys are still very young. You have years to drill this into them. What you do for Xmas 2007 isnt going to decide if they become jailbirds in 10 years. They wont connect those dots. I can tell you they will remember the good things in their lives from this age. Trust me.
  20. shaile

    shaile New Member

    What you do in order to survive with your difficult child's and keep yourself as whole as possible is what you have to do, and no judgement from this end would ever come. There is a extreme amount of pressure on parents to follow suit in regards to the Christmas hype, and sorry but even 30 plus years ago when I was still a kid..the whole meaning of Christmas was never there. It was about the presents, and what we were getting. It never mattered how many times the story was told. Not to mention to that many families do not believe in Christmas to begin with, and I find them not to be cruel. My parents stopped doing Christmas when I was 13 because they became Jehovah's Witness's. Never once was I traumatized as a result of it.

    If you enjoy Christmas..then I'd say try to avoid taking that away..but do it because of you, and your need to avoid allowing the difficult child's to take more pleasures from you or ability to share that pleasure with them.

    If you enjoy it and want it..then to retain your control maybe you can try to allow it back on based on their earning it back. A hour or 30 minutes (whatever they can handle) of being nice will get them the tree, then decorations, then a present. Something along that line where they have to actually work to get it back but yet not take forever and a day so that you don't become over taxed during the process.

    The whole going to give gifts to those less fortunate is definetely a good idea though for any kid.

    Good Luck to you with it and lots of Hugs.