Parenting Q & A- Christmas, First grade romance, Family time with dad

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By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Edition: December 2, 2007 | Topic: Questions from readers


I hate to sound like a scrooge, but I really dislike this time of the year. I have three youngsters, and all I hear about is what they want for Christmas. I want them to have a wonderful holiday, but it seems like whatever I get them is never enough. How can I get them to understand the true meaning of the season?


Your job as a parent is not to make your children happy on Christmas morning, but rather to teach them the right values about what this season is really all about. The values you teach them are more important than their temporary happiness with some toy.

Develop a few simple rules about this time of the year. First, let them know beforehand how many gifts they will receive. Second, speak with relatives and friends to be sure that they are following through with your guidelines. Third, when the youngsters talk to you about all the things they want, gently remind them to make a list of the three to five things that they want the most. Don’t negotiate with them or respond to their whining.

This can be is a wonderful time of the year in which you can begin to develop family rituals that are meaningful to you. There are many things you can do with your children that will give them many wonderful holiday memories. Those might involve craft projects, decorating a tree, helping others, or involvement in religious services. With clear expectations and fun family rituals, you can have a great holiday.


My 6-year-old daughter has been coming home from school with several “I Love You” notes from a boy in her classroom. I have told her to return these to the boy and not to accept any more letters.

I’ve spoken to my daughter about the importance of having friendships with both boys and girls, but I think she is way too young for this type of thing!


You’ve handled the situation very well, but I wonder about the boy who is writing her these notes. This all may be totally harmless or maybe a reflection of some other issues with this youngster. Contact the parents of this boy directly and express your concerns to them. You should also inform the teacher of what is going on in her classroom.


My husband is a devoted father, but he rarely sees his children. He typically leaves the house before they get up and several times a week is gone until after their bedtime. He usually works at least one day during the weekend and is exhausted the rest of the time.

We have two wonderful children, and I feel he is missing out on their lives by this hectic work schedule. What can I say to convince him that his children are more important than his job?


I can’t understand why you describe your husband as a “devoted father” when he rarely sees his children! Your husband maintains this type of schedule either because he feels he has to or he really wants to.

Many individuals maintain such an aggressive work schedule simply because they get more satisfaction out of their work than they do out of their family life. While reluctant to admit it, many people do find being at work more rewarding than raising children or being around their spouse.

However, it could be that your husband’s profession places demands on him that he thinks he cannot avoid. Of course, this is within his power to change, but it may have some serious financial or career consequences that will affect the family. There is nothing that a child psychologist could say to your husband about the importance of being a father to his children that he doesn’t already know.

While you are concerned about the absence of your husband from your children’s lives, I suspect his absence from your life is also a real issue. Maybe you should talk with him about how his absence affects you and not just his children.

Dr. Ramey Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at

©2010 The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Columns may be reproduced with the permission of Dayton Children's.


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