I Disappointed my Daughter for Christmas

(Last Updated On: December 30, 2015)

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

But it was so hard to stick to my guns.

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.

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.

Be happy with what you have. Disappointment brings 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.

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.Yes, I deliberately disappointed my daughter for Christmas, and I think it was the right decision. But it was so hard to stick to my guns. Am I a mean mom?

I disappointed my daughter for Christmas.

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

“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. 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 (Christ, family, friends, togetherness) 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 Replies to “I Disappointed my Daughter for Christmas”

  1. 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. 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.

  2. 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.

    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.

  3. 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.
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    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.

  4. 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.

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