Focused Fridays: Sister Competition

November 30, 2007 at 11:23 pm | Posted in dads, Families, Focused Fridays, Holidays, moms, relationships, Self Esteem, siblings, toddlers, Tweens | Leave a comment
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Focused Friday Question:

I understand that Christmas is supposed to be about joy and Jesus and all that, but I really have a hard time getting past the present giving stuff.  I have two kids and my sister has two kids.  They are all about the same age.  She goes out and gets all kinds of fantastic things.  And lots of them.  There wouldn’t be anything wrong with that except that she makes sure we count how many presents we are giving to each of our children and how much we spend.  If I get less or spend less then she makes comments like, “I guess you just don’t really care about my kids since you are getting less for them than I am for yours.”  I would like to get her kids presents that I think are special for them.  I don’t want to be in this seeming contest.  But I don’t know how to get out.  This is my Christmas Crunch– Keeping up with my sister.

GEM Parenting Answer: 

Thanks so much for this question.  For many there is some under lying need to be sure that gift giving is reciprocated equally.  This means, “I get as much as I give.”  And that defeats a basic concept of high self-esteem.  To help you with your situation of the gift giving competition I have three suggestions.  But first I want to let you know about my sister.  She is the most generous person I know.  I am blessed with her.  For every present I give her family she probably gives my family four or ten.  No joke!  But the difference between my sister and yours is that my sister has never made me feel like we are in a competition.  And I want to let you know how you can get out of the competition and enjoy your sister’s generosity.

  • The first thing to do is to change your own mindset.  If you think of this as a competition it will be.  It is that simple.  If instead you decide to think of your sister differently, the competition will end.  Your sister cannot compete with you if you do not compete with her.
  • The second thing I want you to do is also a mindset change, but with some action added.  Each time your sister gives you the guilt trip about not being as good as she is change that around.  First, in your thoughts, decide that your sister is generous.  As you receive gifts for your family imagine she has done it for the love that she has for your children.  Then tell her how wonderful she is and you are always blown away by her generosity. 
  • The third thing is to allow yourself to be yourself.  I know this sounds funny, but for your own self-esteem I want you to give yourself the gift you deserve and want.  Choose the presents for your sister’s children with all the care and selectivity you want.  Be thrilled that you can give them what you do.  And every time your sister starts in with a competition you are now ready with three ways to step out of the way. 

When you change your mindset and actions to display gratitude for the gifts and appreciation of your sister you raise your own self-esteem.  You no longer need to worry about how you compare to others.  You are just fine as you are.  Not only do help yourself but also you help your children understand that gift giving and receiving is a process. And to give and receive with pleasure is the best way.

Now have fun getting the presents you want to get.  Enjoy the generosity of your sister.  And have a wonderful holiday.

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