The Christmas Present dilemma

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by The lady0251, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. The lady0251

    The lady0251 New Member

    Long time observer and first time poster here. My husband and I just don't know what to do about Christmas this year.

    A little background...this is a second marriage for both of us though we've been together for quite a while. Between us we have three children. My son - 15, fairly well adjusted, easygoing, laid back, openly gay (very well supported by everyone) and lives with us. His youngest daughter - 15, normal teen girl, loves fashion and books, not a very close relationship with us, lives with his ex wife (not her biological mother). And his eldest, our difficult child - 17, pregnant with her second child, first child was seized by children's aide and father has custody, has two grade nine credits (should be in grade 12), moved out when 16, now living in a shelter, refuses to live at home.

    While we struggle daily with how we can help/fix 17D's life, we are also facing how do we have a Christmas celebration that includes her? We can't shop for her the same we would for the other two - she lives in a shelter and can't have a lot of things there. If we give her money it goes to her boyfriend for drugs and booze. But if we don't spoil her like the others we are "bad parents" and don't love her and then she's out of our lives again. Yet the other two kids have done nothing wrong and shouldn't be penalized by not having the usual Christmas. I had thought to get her warm clothes and toiletries, but know it won't be good enough. We would like to have her here during Christmas break with the other two kids as she gets a two week pass without losing her spot at the shelter - and I'll know she's fed and safe. But I foresee disaster coming from this as well.

    I normally love Christmas but this year I'm already dreading it. Can anyone offer advice about what to do when you have one difficult and two easy kids at Christmas?
  2. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    About the gifts... Can they be gift certificates for places that would be hard to trade for cash? Like at a place for a haircut and style? Movie passes, if that is allowed while at the shelter. Some fast food certificates. A good back pack. SHoes, esp warm ones if she lives where it is cold. A fun outing that her dad and her could do together...

    Can you give the nicer gifts to the other children at a time she isn't there to see them receive them? Like Christmas Eve, and she arrives later on Christmas Day?

    Good luck... Difficult Child's and mixed families are hard...

  3. Praecepta

    Praecepta Active Member

    Underage kids who refuse to live at home will not be invited to Christmas festivities and will not receive any gifts!

    Simple as that!

    And speaking of Christmas presents, you DON'T HAVE to give anyone anything. Especially for people who can't afford to be giving gifts! I've seen people give expensive gifts, then not have enough to pay the rent. A simple Christmas card is enough - handmade if someone can't afford that.
  4. The lady0251

    The lady0251 New Member

    Thank you for your replies. I really like the idea of a gift certificate for a hair cut. That could definitely be considered by 17D to be a good present. And possibly the movie passes. We just got her good winter boots for her birthday.

    While I understand that no one has to buy Christmas presents, I always do - I love Christmas, and love buying presents for everyone. We don't go into debt for it nor do we ever put of bills or payments to afford Christmas. I can see the logic somewhat in saying that whomever does not live at home is not invited to Christmas but we are not there yet. Maybe it's false hope, but the hope still exists that maybe she will realize it's a safe and comfortable place we offer here.

    Sigh....I know I'm kidding myself. She's made choices that are ruining her life. We haven't given up on her yet though. And we miss her and love her still.
  5. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Sometimes, you do what you need to do...for you...not your difficult child. Sometimes, it is worth it, because it is your holiday too, and you want to enjoy it, not feel sad, or guilty.

    If there come a time, when spending money on Difficult Child and being around Difficult Child makes you sad...then you will know it's time to stop spending money on gifts and being there for someone who will not appreciate it.

    Everyone is different... KSM
  6. Concerned parent

    Concerned parent New Member

    Looks like you have had some other responses but my first thought too was one or more gift certificates, cannot be exchanged for money, places that do not sell alcohol. I was thinking of even a grocery store, but lots of them sell wine and beer. Also warm blanket or other comforting items which might come in handy. This is so tough, child who refuses to live at home and pregnant. I am not so certain that I would invite her to stay with you, seems like that could be traumatic for your other two children, and safety for all is important. The fact that she is pregnant also complicates it all, I am sure, but this is a person who has made some choices along the way, easy to say and detach, harder to do...I would say give her what you feel inclined to give her and if it is "not enough" she will have to deal with this distorted view. It does sound like it may be possible that no matter what you give her, it "will not be enough."?
  7. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    Our estranged son loves Bryan Cranston and Breaking Bad. My wife and I were fortunate enough to see him give a talk and part of our admission fee included an autographed copy of his recent autobiography. We got two copies - one each for my wife and myself - and we're gifting one of them to our son. That's it.
  8. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Fair doesn't mean equal. My own son was estranged and he didn't participate in the gifts or celebration. I will give gifts to those who are deserving, appreciative, and because I want to give. Don't be bullied into buying things for someone who is a demanding spoiled brat. Give what's right in your mind to each. She is in a different situation than the others.
  9. The lady0251

    The lady0251 New Member

    Thank you for veryone for your kindness and support. Knowing others go through this, that we are not alone helps. While it doesn't make it better, nothing short of a miracle will make it better for her, it gives us hope that maybe in time we can accept the situation.

    Through reflection I realize that there's still that hope you that by spending Christmas break with us she will realize that there is love and safety in our home for her still, that maybe we will have that miracle. I know in my head that it is hope fed by my own dream for her. But my heart continues to weep over her choices and the impact it has on her children.

    I just hunk it's going to be a rough Christmas.
  10. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    My 2 cents... Pat hasn't spoken to us since around June, and even then it was touchy. So... He is getting $50 - given to sister in law for HER to spend on whatever she thinks he needs. Clothes, food, whatever. I'd give her more, but after her demands last fall, ain't happening (she told us to buy a whole bunch of things for him, some of which we normally would do for school, but when he turned 18 and chose to "support himself", it became his responsibility - she said it would fall on her if we didn't, so we told her to tell him to step up which didn't happen of course). We love him, and Belle has told him as much... But we won't enable him, which sister in law is already doing. Ugh.

    Fair does not mean equal. I tried to go insane making sure I spent the same amount of money and gave the same number of gifts to each kid for about 3 years till I said enough was enough.
  11. Go slow mama

    Go slow mama Guest

    She is only 17, a child still really. Yes she is already a mother, and making some poor choices...but treating her as less than by giving less only sends the message that she is undeserving and reinforces the alienation she likely suffers, but might not show or articulate well...because she is only 17.

    If your heart tells you to gift her equally, follow that instinct.

    I understand the need to be careful around not gifting money or other transferable items that could lead to supporting poor choices. But you are gifting from your heart and that is the message that matters. What she chooses to do with it is not really an outcome you can reasonably control.
  12. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    Do what feels right to YOU. Giving or not giving is not going to change anything. That will only happen when she gets sick and tired of being sick and tired of her life choices.
  13. Sister's Keeper

    Sister's Keeper Active Member

    I agree, it's Christmas. I wouldn't shut her out totally. If you want to buy gifts for her, do. I jusy know from experience don't buy her things that are of great monetary value. If she is an addict she will sell them.

    I agree with the gift certificate to get a haircut and wash. Warm blanket, flannel sheets, warm hat, gloves, socks. A back pack, a winter coat.

    I don't know about her staying with you. You know her and know how she acts and if it will be difficult for the rest of your family. Also find out about the shelter rules. Will she lose her bed?
  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I agree with almost everything said here. We do for ourselves, as much or more, than for them.

    She is a child, still. Your child.
    We keep doing and doing because they remain our children. They do not usually get it much until we have tried maybe 500000 times, and then we still think they do not get it. But we keep loving them, and wanting to act from our love. To me, that is not enabling.
    Well. Do I know how this is. I have one child. He holds onto nothing.

    This is what I would consider:

    Gift certificate for haircut.
    ^Smart cell phone with sim card and a month of service for phone and data. (For her safety and to stay in touch).
    ^A utilitarian purse/bag--a shoulder bag (cross body) with lots of zippered, secure pockets. Maybe made of oilcloth, if you live in a wet and cold climate. With a utilitarian wallet. In the States Fossil is a good brand, that is inexpensive but very well thought out and durable. For the cross body, Kipling is a brand that is widely available. There is a brand that makes the coated cotton ones that is really nice and chic. But maybe now is not the time.
    ^If you are in the States, an Amtrak gift card, if you live near the train, making sure it is in her name only and non-transferable. If you live elsewhere maybe there is something similar. So she can come home!! My son needs to travel to another city for medical care. I try to help him with travel costs.
    ^Maybe a cheap bicycle, equipped with a light and lots of reflectors, with a good lock and a safety helmet. Walmart will have good, inexpensive bikes for ninety dollars or so.
    ^You know the present I loved the most from my own mother was flannel nightgowns and bedroom slippers. Every year until I was maybe 18 I got these. Nothing was better.
    ^If she is in a shelter, she is showering in a community shower where there will be athlete's foot. Even cheap flip flops or better still, waterproof sandals, there are several good brands that can be used even for hiking--like Teva, is one. Keen is another. (In off season, now, they can be had for under $40, I think.) They can be used as shower sandals. And with socks, can function as bedroom slippers. They are lightweight and can be carried in a backpack or bag. I would love these, too. I think they are trendy, too. I always used to see young people with these when I was traveling.
    ^Does she like and wear makeup? At the dollar stores near me, I buy almost all of my makeup. (Before that I bought Chanel!! Believe me I see no difference, in most of it.)
    ^Buy a few different sizes of cosmetic and toiletry bags that she can use (in the new bag you are buying her.
    ^Fill the smaller bags with assorted $1.00 lipsticks, lip liner, mascara, eye shadow, eyeliner. Even false eyelashes. The 99 cent store near me has travel size deodorant, lotion, Vaseline, lip balm, tooth brush, toothpaste, shampoo, which you can also stuff in the other small bags. (There are great sunglasses at the dollar store, too. Whatever the climate sunglasses can protect her eyes. She may be outside a great deal.All of this stuff would be kind of like stocking stuffers. If you have other daughters--you can do the same for them, too. Anybody can use travel size toiletries at one time or another. I use to take them to work with me when I worked long shifts.

    You could make shopping for her fun for you and an act of love. I think the problem is you feel so bad, possibly filled with guilt, that this is getting in the way of seeing the positive side of this. This is an opportunity to show your great love and devotion to your girl. By thinking about her life now, actually facing it, you are helping her and yourself. I think what is happening now is you dread thinking about it. Maybe this shopping expedition would be a way to feel closer to her, and be closer to her. And to come to grips yourself with something very painful. And at the same time building up your defenses and your strength. Kind of like a vaccine.

    Remember. If you can join her in this, even symbolically by imagining it, a little bit--you are creating the potential for great empathy and intimacy between you.

    The thing is this: Do not spend money you are not prepared to see evaporate. And do not buy something that she could sell for serious money to get herself in trouble. Or if she was extorted for it, you would suffer greatly. This is a demonstration of your love for her. Not of her worth. Your love can never be represented by a "thing" nor should it be.

    This is what I think about equality of presents: Things are not equal. Pretending they are is a mistake. She knows that things have gone haywire. She's living it. So do the other kids. Often I call things as I see them. (Sometimes this works...)

    We tried to get what you could use. We tried to choose presents that will not be a burden to keep securely with you. (Even if you do not say this to her--know this, yourself. It is not your fault she is living as she is. Bottom line. Not your fault.)
    Well, get used to it. No matter what many of us on this forum have done for our children, and endured ourselves, we have been bad parents, viewed as such by others, and perhaps, by our own kids.
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    Last edited: Nov 24, 2016
  15. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome, lady.

    I haven't read all the responses, but I just wanted to mention that maybe having your daughter stay with you for two weeks straight could be too difficult for everyone. Maybe start with one day, then a couple of days later, another. Play it by ear, see how it goes.

    Is she keeping the baby? Maybe diapers and other baby necessities could be on your list and less for her personally.

    I wouldn't try to make it 'even' between her and the younger. Give them what you think is reasonable for them, and give the older what is appropriate for her. Have a separate gifting time for the younger ones if needed, to keep the peace.

    Stay with us and keep posting, if you want. It helps.