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Why I Disappointed my Daughter for Christmas

(Last Updated On: December 12, 2017)

Yes, I disappointed my daughter for Christmas, and I think it was the right decision.

But it was so hard to stick to my guns.

Why would I deliberately disappoint her for Christmas?

When she was five, she had asked for a $5 set of orange and blue ponies with hair to brush and braid, a minion toy, a Barbie that rides a horse that really walks, and a big white horse like her friend has.

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Every night for a week before Christmas, she reiterated her list.

I had shopped for her gifts months ahead of time. All the gifts were bought and wrapped. There would be no big white horse under the Christmas tree. I had disappointed my daughter.

My mommy heart wanted to search every website, race to the store, and spend more than I should just to see her overjoyed face Christmas morning. Yet, something said, no, this is a small lesson you can teach her now, for free.

My mommy heart wanted to offer her every precious thing that would bring her joy, but I knew the better lesson in disappointment.

Be happy with what you have. Disappointment brings a lesson of having a grateful attitude not an entitled one. Click To Tweet



We aren’t wealthy, but despite living on one income, we’ve been tremendously blessed to provide her with more than she could ever possibly need.

And she doesn’t understand real want.

I wonder if I’m doing her a disservice by not giving her more realistic expectations for life or age-appropriate growth opportunities.

She had fairly simple requests, but she didn’t need both horse toys. Her Nana had already bought her the Barbie Horse toy, and I didn’t want to overshadow it.

Plus, she was getting a pots & pans set and “Live” pet bird along with boxes of books, clothes, and educational games. She was getting too much already. I wanted fewer toys to spark interest and creativity, not overtake her imagination.

I disappointed my daughter for Christmas. I wanted fewer toys to spark her creativity not overtake her imagination. Click To Tweet

After all the gifts had been opened and we passed around the cards on the tree, including the White Envelope, I asked her, “Did you have a great Christmas?” I wondered if she even noticed.

She looked at the stack of presents around her, her face falling just a bit.

And I knew I had disappointed my daughter for Christmas.

“Well, I didn’t get a big white horse . . . ” she said quietly.

I smiled and gave her the words for a proper perspective.

“No, instead you got a tan horse with a barbie. You can’t get everything you want all the time. Maybe another time or you can save up for it.”

She wasn’t devastated. She was disappointed, for a rare time in her life.

And it was good for her. Learning to control her emotions is one of her personal challenges. Not receiving one unnecessary gift gave her a chance to deal with disappointment on a tiny level and successfully overcome it, gain perspective, and learn to be grateful, not entitled.

While chasing the ethereal ‘perfect’ Christmas for each of my children, I forgot to consider the expectations and lessons I was teaching them. Getting everything you desire for Christmas isn’t reality. It’s commercialism.

Focusing on what really matters (the coming of Christ and family, friends, togetherness, giving) is the lesson I really want to teach.

As I watched her process her emotions, she looked up and said, “It doesn’t matter. Jesus is the best gift of Christmas anyway.”

Lesson learned – for both of us.

18 thoughts on “Why I Disappointed my Daughter for Christmas

  1. I think what you did was right. Giving kids everything they want just builds unrealistic expectations that will continue to grow as they get older.

    1. And not prepare her for the bigger disappointments to come.

  2. Very good lesson. I know as a parent it is so hard to see disappointment and hurt in our children, and we want to do everything we can to make sure that they avoid it. But the truth is, that just isn’t reality. Life is full of hurts and disappointments, and it is so much better that our children learn to deal with them while they are young and in a loving environment than when they are older and alone in the world. Good job mom, and I am sure that if she saves up and gets that big white horse it will be all the more special.

    1. Watching her be disappointed is going to happen. It is hard not to prevent every disappointment possible when I know how hard life is. But preparing her for the hard times is more important.

  3. Your daughter is lucky to have such a sweet and caring momma like you. Hope you have a wonderful New Year! 🙂

    1. Aww, thank you. I certainly try to love her the way God loves us. She has blessed my life beyond measure.

  4. Kudos to you for not getting her everything she wants! Eventually we all learn this in life!

    1. Small lessons now will make the bigger lessons later less of a shock.

  5. You have a way with words!!!! I think this is such a good post for ALL to read. Reality is we can’t always get what we want!!!

    1. Aw, thank you! Learning to accept disappointment is a lesson we all have to learn. Glad for a God that gives us what we need rather than just what we want. I would have missed out on so much.

  6. I sing it as a song to my daughter, I say it every time to her. gal you can’t always have everything you want in life at least not the way you want it! Gratitude for what you have that’s it!
    I love your mommy heart…great lesson for me too, Jennifer.
    Thank you for sharing this.
    God Bless

    1. Sounds like a good song. I say, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit, although I might strive past fit throwing as she is getting better able to exercise self-control.

  7. I agree it is so easy to want to give them everything that they ask for, but really less is more. My hubby reminds me of that all of the time!

    1. I tried to give her gifts that required imagination and would fit into her interests and homeschool lessons. But also realized that she rarely faces any sort of disappointment and when she does, she doesn’t deal very well. This was a great way to help her grow as a person. I have a feeling the Horse might show up for her birthday if it is still on the list.

  8. I can totally understand your mommy heart wanting to provide and make her happy… and yet to stick to it, and allow a lesson to be learned – thank you for sharing. There are so many times when I wonder if my kids are learning these lessons, but they are still young. So thank you for the reminder that my mommy heart that wants nothing but to give them everything they could ever want, needs to remember we have a Father who has already provided for our needs.

    1. And she has played happily with every gift. One minute of joy and excitement wasn’t worth the lesson we learned about being happy and grateful.

  9. The want vs. need is so difficult to teach. We are working on that too.

    1. As with most things, it is best by example.

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