CNN Parenting

Q: Am I a bad parent if I sacrifice holiday cheer for the environment?

The United States has 3.1% of the world's children, and yet consumes 40% of the world's toys.

Am I a Bad Parent? is a CNN Parenting parenthood advice column. In the form below, send us your confidential questions about any worrisome parenting behaviors you're having, and we'll help you work through the problem -- and the guilt.

(CNN)Am I a bad parent if I sacrifice some holiday cheer for the sake of the environment? We are all used to holiday observances that are excessive; that's, in a way, how we know it's a holiday. Is it okay to reimagine the holidays — and probably suck some of the joy out of them for our kids — for a higher purpose? Or, should we try to limit consumption in other areas and at other moments and leave the holiday season mostly alone?

Signed,
Feeling Guilty

Dear Feeling Guilty,

    Let's start with the big, urgent picture. No, you are not a bad parent if you cut back on holiday-related consumption in the name of the climate crisis.
    On the most basic, evolutionary level, you are being a good parent. Learning to live with less will, without question, make it more likely that our species including your genes will live on. Sticking with the more-more-more status quo, on the other hand, could potentially lead to humanity's end.
    Now that we got the science out of the way, let's dig into your emotions. You seem to be attached to a certain type of holiday, in which fun means a small mountain range of presents around the Christmas tree, or a big reveal on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah. Food everywhere, toys everywhere, tinsel everywhere, shreds of wrapping paper everywhere; that's how we know we've had a good time.
    I get it. I am, by nature, a maximalist and also associate celebration with abundance. We're not alone. Humans have long made this association, and, in fact, festivals throughout history coincided with the harvest season. Abundance was the occasion upon which people came together to celebrate.