When it’s “home for the holidays”, it is the rare adult who does not trip back into the role they played as a child within their family of origin. The same old feuds, difficult relationships, favoritisms, and grudges occur. Perhaps they are held beneath the surface, but active there none-the-less. Often home means nurturing, warmth, support, and familiar customs. But it can just as easily mean criticism, disapproval, discomfort, and for those raising their own children, humiliation, intimidation and insecurity as well.
Anticipation and stress can provoke a parent into relinquishing whatever authority they have with their children in the shadow of disapproving family members who expect well-mannered, pleasant children who do what they are told. Parents who struggle with high needs children hold their breath, hoping for good behavior and no scenes and easily fall victim to the authority and opinions of their parents and in-laws. It’s easy for those who do not experience the daily struggles of parenting to know just what this child needs. Unsolicited advice, disapproving looks, and uninvited discipline from parents, grandparents, in-laws and siblings can undermine even the strongest parent of a child reacting to the stress of the situation.