5 Things Your Kids Don’t Want From You at Christmastime

I remember my brother’s ninth birthday party like it was yesterday. We were in the park, and all of his friends had gathered to play and give him gifts. He was given strict instructions by our mom to be polite and say “thank you” for each gift, even if it wasn’t his favorite thing. My brother opened the first package and pulled out a college football t-shirt for a team he didn’t like. He politely said thank you and then opened the next gift. It was a shirt for the team he did cheer for, and he lost his mind with excitement. In celebrating the second shirt, he’d inadvertently told the previous friend his gift wasn’t appreciated. I chuckle even now retelling the story because as a dad, I could totally see this happening with my kids.

Kids may be polite to your face, but there are some things they just don’t want. This is never more apparent than at Christmastime when gifts are expected in many families. We try hard as parents to provide things and experiences for our children that they will enjoy, but not everything we offer them is desirable, not limited to the gifts we put under the tree. Here are 5 things your kids don’t want from you at Christmastime.

It’s OK if your day doesn’t look exactly how you’d expected.

1. Impatience

It always feels like I have one million things to do during the Christmas season. Travel, parties, and holiday errands can get frustrating. Don’t lose your cool. Your kids are likely very excited. Embrace the joyful part of December the way they do. Slow down, analyze what matters, and pack a little patience for your holiday plans. It’s OK if your day doesn’t look exactly how you’d expected.

2. Hustle

A go-go-go calendar is one of the things kids hate around the holidays. They usually have time away from school and want to spend it relaxing and playing. Having Dad constantly shoving them in the car and slamming the gas pedal will burn them out. Lose the hustle this time of year.

3. The Top of Your Head

Phubbing is a real parenting problem. When I am looking down at my phone, I’m not looking up at them. My biggest fear is that my kids will look back on their childhood and think I spent more time with my smartphone than with them. Work can wait. Social media isn’t that important. Enjoy the moment with your kids and leave the phone in the other room.

4. Underwear

Anybody else get this in their stocking? It’s practical, but it’s another one of those things kids hate. The worst part of gifts like this is they don’t require much thought. Ditch the tighty-whities and think a little harder about what present may truly express your love for the person opening the box.

5. Toys Instead of Time

Getting an XBOX is cool but getting to spend time with dad is better. Way better. Some of my best memories with my dad happened while playing catch in the yard or shooting hoops in the driveway. We have enjoyed nights on the porch and good conversations on vacation. Sure, he bought me video games and stuff like that, but life is not about the things we accumulate but about the people who are irreplaceable. You can’t be replaced. Your kids want you, not just the stuff you can provide.

How about reading your child a Christmas story? Check out 10 Great Christmas Stories for Kids at

Sound off: What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you love most about Christmas?”