Fatherhood and Finances: Hardship During the Holiday Season

There are no doubts about it; this year has been extremely difficult for many Americans. The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the U.S. economy and has led to an unemployment rate of 6.7% in November, with approximately 5.64 million men facing unemployment in November 2020.

What can you do if you’re one of the millions of men facing financial hardships during the holiday season? How can you mentally prepare yourself for the upcoming holiday?

Accept Reality as It Is

The truth is, being a father who’s unable to buy his family gifts for Christmas is a situation that feels awful. How could it not? When you’re family is looking to you to help provide an “authentic” holiday experience, how else are you supposed to feel when you have to tell them that it’s not going to happen this year.

The first step to addressing these feelings of guilt and inadequacy is to accept reality for what it is: the pandemic has affected the economy and now money is tight. It’s not exactly something you can control, is it?

What you can control, however, is how you respond to this situation. Rather than getting wrapped up in these feelings of guilt, you have the opportunity to choose a different way to react; a more productive way that can still allow for some holiday celebrations.

What to Do When Money’s Tight

There are several things that you can do to help keep this holiday season enjoyable for the family, even during financial hardships:

  1. Prioritize your holiday – Who or what do you need to spend money on this year for the holiday? Who is most important to you during this time? Are there any traditions that you aren’t willing to give up? Ask yourself these questions before moving forward.
  2. Create a budget – Decide what spending to prioritize and then create a budget. From there, consider your budget sacred and inviolable!
  3. Forget about the gifts – The holiday season is supposed to be about spending time with the ones you love, isn’t it? Forget about stressing over buying gifts and instead prioritize activities that can be done as a family. This season provides an excellent opportunity to teach children about the true meaning of the holidays.
  4. Be creative! – Coming up with creative, low-cost (or even free) gifts for your family can be a bit tricky, but it can also be more meaningful—especially if the gift is your time or is handmade. Taking your child on a father/child outing can be the gift that creates memories that last a lifetime.


Facing down financial hardships, while undoubtedly difficult, does not have to create a terrible holiday situation for you or your family. Yes, you will have to be honest with yourself and your family about the situation. Yes, you may have to sacrifice certain time-honored traditions, too. In the end, accepting the reality of the situation and using a little creativity can still allow you to make the holiday season one of joy for you and your family.

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Ending a Relationship During the Holiday Season

Photo by Kelly Sikkema 

Most people who are experiencing a relationship that’s on the rocks try to “weather the storm” during the holiday season, hoping to avoid making a usually joyous season one of trauma, drama, or both. However, there are occasions in which relationships are ended during the holiday season for any number of reasons. Sometimes ending a relationship during the holidays is avoidable, and other times it’s not; it all depends on your specific situation.

In any case, there are usually a couple of questions that come to mind when contemplating a potential breakup over the holidays:

  1. Is there a proper way to end a relationship during the holiday season?
  2. Should you break up with someone during the holiday?

We’ll begin by answering the second question: there’s no right answer, it’s entirely dependent on your circumstances. Do you and your partner have children? Are you cohabitating? Just how toxic is your situation? The answers to these questions can help you determine the “should”and “when” of this holiday conundrum.

Now, let’s move on to the “how” by answering the first question.

The Breakup

If you feel that you must end your relationship during the holiday season and your situation isn’t toxic, then there are a few tips that may help soften the blow of the breakup for your soon-to-be ex.

  • Don’t break up through a phone call, text, email, social media, etc.
  • Give your soon-to-be ex a heads up that the state of the relationship is the topic you want to address.
  • Prepare your talking points and encourage them to do the same.
  • Don’t give your soon-to-be ex hope that there’s something they can do to make the relationship work if you know there’s nothing they could possibly do.
  • Avoid breaking up the week of the actual holiday if at all possible.
  • It’s disingenuous to use the line, “It’s not you, it’s me.” Don’t say it. Instead, be honest.
  • Don’t use the breakup as an opportunity to blame them for it. Hopefully, you’ve been communicating all of your concerns throughout the course of the relationship and you have given your soon-to-be ex plenty of time to turn things around.
  • Don’t immediately continue hanging out with their family members or mutual friends if it’s going to be that much harder on the person you’re breaking up with. Depending on how your conversation goes, this may be something you’ll want to bring up in your talking points.
  • Give them closure and consider allowing your ex to call or message you a few more times after the breakup. Do not end things abruptly unless you are in a very toxic situation and it would be the safest thing for you to do.

Things to Remember

No matter how much you dislike the person or their response to the breakup, do your best to end things on a positive note. If they have some choice words for you, allow them to express themselves and get their frustration out. Remember, they’re only human and deserve compassion, too. Besides, you’re breaking up with them over the holidays, leaving them with no control over the state of the relationship. You hold the power.

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