Our Tuesday Topic is from Kim, who writes a new favorite blog of mine, Like the Love. She asks:
How do you handle the holidays with your kids from hard places?
We just (kind of) survived our first family holiday that included a three-day visit from my mother-in-law and an extended family dinner. Our youngest (age 7, home 7 months from Ethiopia) performed and acted happy for three straight days and then had some meltdowns at home when it was all over. Our oldest (age 9, home 7 months from Ethiopia) shut down and became aggressive and belligerent, exhibiting behaviors we hadn’t seen in over a month. We had an “at home” day when it was all over, and we heard several comments of “I’m not a good child,” “I’m not your son,” “You’re not my mother,” “You don’t love me,” etc. It feels like we regressed months in terms of attachment. The oldest again rejected my physical affection at bedtime, something he hasn’t done for months.
We tried to be proactive with an email to extended family about boundaries and the boys’ limitation, but that didn’t prevent boundaries from being crossed. I just feel like no matter how I set the experience up ahead of time, someone has unrealistic expectations. We also talked to the boys about telling us when they needed a break from the big crowd, and after reading the signals, we left the family dinner earlier than we had anticipated.
However, the entire holiday still felt pretty disastrous.
So now we’re a month out from the next big holiday, Christmas, and I’m wondering how the rest of you determine how much is too much for extended family gatherings during the holiday season.
In other words, how do we spread holiday cheer while maintaining sanity and intimate attachment?
It doesn’t get much more timely than this. Do you have thoughts, strategies, laminated flow charts? Share them with us – even if they seem rather humble. I’ll tell you one of mine. I am buying a Costco bag of pepperoni and giving Dimples unlimited access to it on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Simple – yes. Helpful – definitely. I wrote a post about this in 2010 and just went back to read it again; I think I need to follow my own advice.
I hope you’ll take a moment to respond to today’s question with a comment. Let’s prepare for the holidays with our kids from “hard places” in mind.
If you have a question you would like me to use as a Tuesday Topic, please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put Tuesday Topic in the subject line.
Encourage one another,