Tag Archives: grandparents

Home for the Holidays: Stressful or Inviting?

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.

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Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house you go!

Holidays mean relatives; Relatives can mean conflict. Now is the time to create supportive relationships.

When you anticipate getting together with your parents or in-laws at holiday time, do you get tense and stressed just thinking about it? Are you afraid your child will misbehave, they will not understand, and you will buckle under pressure from your elders to parent in ways you have been working hard to avoid?

So many parents are looking for new ways to parent—ones that feel right and are more respectful of their children—that might be quite different from the way they were parented. But something happens when the generations get together and we revert to old patterns. Holidays can be fraught with anxiety when a look or a comment from a parent or in-law triggers self-doubt. You cave under their authority and treat your child how you assume your parent or in-law thinks you should.

When parents are not yet confident or fluent in their new parenting approach, they feel vulnerable in the face of one who was the authority figure for so many years. The temptation is often too great to resist what that authority thinks should happen, and parents behave in the way they have been struggling to avoid.

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