Parents cancel Christmas for their ‘disrespectful, entitled’ kids

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They are the parents who canceled Christmas.

John and Lisa Henderson of Hurricane, Utah, had finally had enough of their little hurricanes.

For months, the couple had been trying to teach their three boys, ages 11, 8 and 5, to stop being disrespectful and acting entitled.

“We gave them good warning, either it was time for their behavior to change or there would be consequences,” wrote Lisa Henderson, co-founder of the Over the Big Moon blog, in a recent post.

“We patiently worked with them for several months and guess what, very little changed. One day after a particularly bad display of entitlement John said, ‘We should just cancel Christmas.’ ”

And that’s what they did.

Santa isn’t coming to the Henderson house this year.

The family is taking the money that would have been spent on gifts and using it for service projects and helping other people.

It’s not like her children suffer from a lack of toys, Lisa Henderson wrote. The family will still decorate and celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, and the children will still get presents from other family.

Though they’re taking some heat from critics who call them Scrooges, the gifts these parents are giving their children are so much more important than the latest popular “Star Wars” figure or electronic gadget soon relegated to the dustbin. These gifts will last a lifetime.

The gift of consequences

How many times do parents threaten to take away the television/iPad/favorite toys unless their children start to behave?

If the threats continue but there’s never any follow-through, children come to believe that there aren’t any consequences. They also learn that their parents can’t be trusted to tell the truth. And they develop a nasty habit of manipulating to get what they want.

The Henderson children will probably never doubt their parents’ word again.

The gift of perspective

Henderson knew that her children had plenty to be grateful for, including good food, a nice home and too many toys to count.

What they needed was a dose of perspective, which they got. They used the Santa money to start a clothing drive for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and ship the goods overseas. They are also considering participating in an Adopt-a-Grandparent program.

The gift of imagination

The boys aren’t sitting around feeling sorry for themselves.

Besides organizing as a family to do good works for others, the boys have responded by making gifts for each other and sneaking them into each child’s stocking.

“They are learning exactly what we wanted them to learn, because they are not moping around feeling sorry for themselves,” she wrote. “They are thinking of others.”

The gift of family

Christmas hasn’t been completely canceled in the Henderson household. What’s been canceled is an overwhelmingly commercial Christmas.

Instead of a race to the tree to see what Santa brought, the focus on Christmas morning will be on spending time together with Lisa’s cinnamon rolls, their faith, family games and the opportunity to “truly enjoy the few presents they did get” from grandparents and others.

“While this may not be the best choice for everyone, it feels right for our family right now,” she wrote. “Our kids get to focus on that feeling. I am almost certain this will be the best Christmas they ever have!”



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  • Mark

    Join the club. We did the same thing last year, when our kids did not want to help put up decorations (13 &16 year olds) they just wanted to stand around with their hands out like everyone owed them. Well they did learn Christmas is more than just looking for a payout. I don’t regret it, the point was loud and clear

    • Carrie

      Mark, good for you. Teenagers are certainly tough to deal with. (I have a 17 year old son.) I agree with anyone who puts the sentiment of the season ahead of consumerism during the holidays. I think we should all do the same.

  • Charise

    Can someone explain exactly where/how these children learn of such entitlements and disrespectful behaviors in the first place? I’m sure they didn’t wake up one morning, smack their heads and say “today’s the day the world owes me”. Glad to hear that this family and others felt the need to rein it all back in and start new “traditions” and finally act on what a consequence to a negative behavior should be. Idle threats, no matter how much in the heat of the moment, never give you the results you want. Mean what you say but first and foremost, say what you mean,.. then be consistent . each . and . every . time. Is that inconvenient? Of course it is. “Behave yourself or we’re leaving this store right now” isn’t convenient with a cart full of groceries and 6 feet from the check out but then, don’t threaten it in the first place if you don’t intend to carry through. Just teaching your children you can’t be trusted because you don’t do what you say you are going to do. Parenting is work… I wish more people understood that.

    • Carrie

      Charise, exactly. This is too little and too late. Children learn from their parents. So, perhaps the adults should also look at themselves and see if they, too, are acting entitled and spoiled. Taking away presents might hurt their little feelings because they have been trained to associate Christmas with getting presents. I’m glad to hear that they are still decorating, etc. for the season. It’s important to still celebrate the real reason behind the season. I would have taken it a step further. Anyone who wanted to give these kids gifts should be told to make a donation to a charity. Maybe that would actually teach them a lesson.

      • TWINEINZ

        Yes, it can be taught but not just by parents but television shows, commercials, school, being round others in their peer group, and so on. Not just from mom and dad. It starts small when their little and grows and grows. Bigger and better, top 100 toys, ads telling you they need this and that and feeling you have to top last year. The parents did look to themselves and are doing something about it. Showing their children the gift of giving. I respect these parents for seeing the errors of their ways and the error of our society as a whole and are giving them a great life lesson. And they will not forget what they, both parents and kids, have learned.

      • Charise

        My only hope is that their attempt to give back at Christmas and turn things around is not perceived by the children as the consequences of their own bad judgments/parenting/entitlement/etc. That will only make things worse in the big picture. Yes, once a child gets into the real world outside the comforts and teachings of their parents, other influences can play a part but if you work to instill the appropriate values from an early age, it is definitely manageable. TV’s and electronics have off buttons; a playdate invitation can be declined, and life will still go on.Talk to your kids, teach them what your expectations are and help them achieve those goals.

  • Hmmmm

    This was actually a very good idea. I wouldnt call them scroges or anything since their still celebrating Christmas. My husband and I take care of my niece and nepgew and guaranteed if they misbehave something they really like will be taken away. What kid dont like or expect gifts on Christmas? I dont know any!!! Parenting is hard and as a parent you do what you feel is neccessary for your family!!!

  • Judith Cassidy

    Why didn’t they use the money to help the homeless and those who have very little HERE in this country?? They say charity begins at home well home isn’t overseas. They could help the wounded warriors, disabled vets. or other charities for here in the USA.

  • Janet

    Well, I really think that these parents should’ve taught their children this before it got this bad. This is really down to them not doing their job as parents. They raised them to be that way.

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