A Utah couple decided to teach their three young boys a lesson about gratitude.
In a blog post “Why My Husband and I Cancelled Christmas,” Lisa Henderson laid out their plans to address the sense of entitlement their kids were displaying. Last month, they told the boys they were canceling Christmas, or at least the gift-giving part.
“Here is why – John and I feel like we are fighting a very hard uphill battle with our kids when it comes to entitlement. Our kids have been acting so ungrateful lately,” Henderson wrote. “They expect so much even when their behavior is extremely disrespectful. We gave them good warning, either it was time for their behavior to change or there would be consequences.”
Well, the kids’ behavior didn’t improve. On Santa’s naughty list they were placed. The parenting move made it onto some of the morning shows, including “Today.”
The money the couple would have spent on presents for the boys will instead be used to give to others. The family has also been doing various community service projects.
“We are trying to teach them the pleasure of giving rather than continuing to feed their childhood desire for more,” wrote the mother, co-founder of Over the Big Moon Web site.
Don’t feel too bad. The kids will still be getting something for the holiday, just not from their parents.
“The few presents they get from Grandparents . . . will be more cherished because the quantity will be less,” Lisa wrote. “They can enjoy what they get rather than feel overstimulated with so much. Christmas morning won’t be less special without Santa coming. Instead we can enjoy our Cinnamon rolls, play games as a family, and truly enjoy the few presents they did get.”
The couple is receiving some backlash. So much so, that Lisa Henderson had to add an addendum to her blog posting.
“I wanted to share what we are doing, so any parents that feel they are struggling with the same issues in their home can see what others are doing and get ideas for their family,” she wrote. “My intention is to help support other parents and to raise amazing kids. I don’t need everyone to agree with me, but I do ask that if you disagree please do it in a respectful way.”
Color of Money Question of the Week
The Hendersons make a good point: “I really think that we as parents need to take a step back and look at our motivation for giving gifts to our kids. Obviously, we enjoy giving to our kids. That is not bad! But, have we gone too far?”
So, do you think canceling Christmas is a good way to teach children about gratitude? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “No Gifts For You.”
The American Dream is dead
The mall parking lots are full, and people are merrily shopping online for the holiday — so what’s all this fuss about inequity in America?
But look around. Despite the shopping and spending, people are suffering mightily. One survey finds that people are spending far more than they should on housing. Families feel they have to take on debt to send their kids to college, and despite the improved unemployment numbers, lots of people are still unemployed.
It all makes me make me wonder if the American Dream is dead for all but the richest in our country.
I was reading a post by Salon political writer Elias Isquith in which he referred to something that comedian Chris Rock said in an interview. Rock had said: “If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.”
“At first blush, this may not sound like such a profound statement,” Isquith writes. “It could be easily mistaken for a comment about the politics of envy or simply the awesome scale of inequality today. But I don’t think that’s what Rock was getting at, really. Rather than speaking to the reality of inequality itself or the combustible resentment of the underclass, Rock was talking about our perception of American society.”
Are people delusional about their upward mobility prospects?
“Currently, the gap between perception and reality in U.S. society is papered over by the American Dream and its vow that regular people, through hard work and perseverance, will be able to get ahead,” Isquith writes. “That dynamic won’t change until more Americans realize that the American Dream today is just an empty promise.”
Color of Money online chat
Join me today at noon ET for my regular Q&A about your personal finances. My guest today is Washington Post personal finance reporter Jonnelle Marte. We’ll be talking about graduate school debt.
We both have written about the surge in grad student debt:
Join the conversation, or if you can’t join me live, read the transcript later.
Give me a break
You may not want to think of tax season yet, but you should be aware that a slew of tax breaks for your 2014 tax return may not be around for very long, as The Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery reports.
The House approved dozens of business and individual tax breaks on Wednesday, Montgomery reported. The bill, which will allow taxpayers to claim the deductions on their 2014 tax returns, now needs approval from the Senate. But the perks expire at the end of this year.
On the table are tax breaks that first expired at the end of 2013. Although most of the breaks help businesses, here are some of the tax breaks that remain in limbo for individual taxpayers, as outlined by CNN’s Jeanne Sahadi:
■ Deduction for teachers’ expenses: Elementary and high school teachers, whether they itemize or not, could deduct up to $250 for the costs of classroom supplies that they purchase.
■ Equal tax treatment for commuters: “Commuters may reduce their pre-tax income to account for their commuting costs. Under the law, however, those who drive to work and pay for parking are allowed to exclude more ($250 per month) than those who use mass transit ($130 per month).” If the measure is approved, mass transit commuters could get to exclude $250 per month.
■ Deduction for mortgage insurance premiums: “People who only put down a small amount to buy a home may be required to pay for mortgage insurance to protect the lender against default. This tax break would let them deduct the cost of their premiums if they itemize their deductions.”
■ Mortgage debt: “When you sell your home for less than what you owe the bank or your home is foreclosed, the bank may agree to forgive the remaining debt you owe. But the IRS typically treats that forgiven debt as taxable income to you. This tax break would allow you to exclude it from your income.”
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