As the Holiday Season approaches, tensions mount and shopping lists grow longer. There seems to be so much to do as we try to make our kids happy, forgetting that the gift of our presence is the best present of all! Here are three ways you can truly gift your children with your presence this holiday season.


1. Give the Gift of your Time


The run-run-run, do-do-do quality of our lives and our kids’ lives is a practice we created. When we look back to our childhoods, to our youth and its struggles, we see we got into the habit of doing, always doing. And we passed this on to our kids.


The thing we all must learn, and help our kids to learn, is to not-do.  We are always doing and have become unbalanced in the process. We have to learn to be.  With all our doing, we feel frustrated and run down, and so do our kids. Everyone starts complaining, grumbling and finding fault with things around us, with each other, with ourselves.  This is especially true around the holiday time.


We have to not-do.  We have to relearn.  We have to become innocent again.  We have to learn to play again, with the enjoyment of a kid, expressing our spirit that is eternally free.


Practice: What better way to learn to play again than to spend time playing with your kids, just being in each other’s company, laughing, giggling, running, jumping, dancing! And with all your electronic gadgets turned off! Observe your children’s natural playfulness.  Learn from them.  Enter into playful expressions with them as you discover new ways to bring the Joy of the season into your life with them.  Finding the heart of your own playful, inner child and giving it as the gift of your presence to them will be the best gift ever!


2. Give the Gift of Truly Listening


Another gift that we can give to our kids is to truly listen! The best formula for effective listening is: Don’t hurry, don’t rush, don’t push, and don’t preach!


We usually try to tell our child what is right instead of trying to understand what they think is right. Instead of talking, just listen. Understand the child’s frame of reference. It is from there that we lead the child toward higher understanding.


This is where parents, even with the best of intentions, often go wrong.  If we jump to conclusions without really listening to our kids, we create a strain in the relationship. The child develops fear and feels the need to lie.


Practice: Listen to your kids. Try to understand the child and his or her predicament and thoughts. Give your positive energy and love, like the morning dew: silent and unseen. Then gently lead the child.  


From time to time, share a beautiful teaching, your personal experience of day-to-day life, how you cope with stress, what you have learned from life, how good things have happened when you took a higher road. The goal is to share your own life experiences instead of telling your children what they need to do.


As you let the child gradually open up and talk to you, they will begin to confide in you.  Find the right time to move into his or her heart.


You have to be silent, very subtle. The child will respond with love to gentle, quiet guidance. Then the child is free to follow your lead without rebelling against it.


What greater gift can you give to your child than to be their best friend? A best friend appreciates you as you are and does not criticize what you do or do not do. Try to give this same gift of unconditional love and acceptance to your children. It is free and what you get back is priceless!



3. Give the Gift of Giving


We have all learned some hard lessons in our lives. Naturally, we don't want to see our children suffer in the same way. But suffering is not always negative. Suffering, going without, and personal sacrifice all have deep lessons for any soul. They play a role in our growth in life and in the life of the spirit, even for a child.  Giving our children a framework to begin appreciating that early in life is a great gift, one that will ultimately help them triumph over life’s inevitable adversities.


One way to instill these values in our children is to begin to teach them to share with those who are less fortunate than they. Our children are growing up with unheard of material stuff, electronic and other! Learning the gift of giving can go along way in helping them become more sensitive to what truly matters in life.


Practice: Find a way each day of the season to give your child an opportunity to share with another. It does not need to be something great; the smallest acts of random kindness can go a long way in making someone’s day! Children learn by your example. If they can help you bake cookies for the seniors at the nursing home and deliver them, they will find that they receive far more from the loving smiles of the grateful seniors than the few cookies they brought to give.


Help your child to share with others, in so doing you can teach your child where the true richness lies.


May you invite the Light of the Season into your heart and the hearts of your children. Allow it to spread and heal those around you who are suffering, who are undernourished, freezing in the cold, and have no one to love them. Expand yourself to touch them, feel them, heal them, and in so doing, teach your children the Joy of doing the same. Sharing our hearts, our minds and our time with our children is the very best of all presents we can give them!

Shuddhaanandaa Brahmachari (Kolkata, India), is a globally acclaimed motivational and spiritual teacher, author, social advocate and peace maker. Founder of Stress Management Academy, his Simple Art of Managing Stress and Course in Mindfulness are known worldwide, inspiring corporate leadership, students and all seekers of peace and happiness to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Author of the internationally acclaimed My Mind, My Best Friend Shuddhaanandaa was the recipient of the Man of Peace Award from the World Organisation for Peace in Mexico, 2012. He is recognized as a visionary social advocate for his development of groundbreaking programs that serve thousands of poverty-stricken individuals in slums of Calcutta, India and remote villages of West Bengal. He founded Lokenath Divine Life Mission in 1985.

Please read his books My MInd, My Best Friend: 30 Mindful Practices for a Peaceful and Happy Life, (Spanish, Mi mente, mi mejor amistad), Cleaning the Mirror of Mind: Clutter Free Home, Clutter Free Life and The Incredible Life of a Himalayan Yogi, all available on Amazon Kindle.

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