Coping With the Holidays for Hurting Parents

The holidays can be so difficult for us if our children are engaging in destructive or unwise behaviors. We set ourselves up for more pain disappointment and heartache if we don’t think about this ahead of time. We can find ourselves quite depressed if we aren’t careful. The best thing we can do is to think about our “expectations”. The following 4 questions are very helpful for us to be better prepared for this time of year.

1) How do you think the holidays might be difficult for you?
Some are dreading it, wondering if there will be another crisis. It will be uncomfortable being around other family members. Will they be asking awkward questions? Realize we need to go with the moment and appreciate what you have with them now (or without them) and stop talking about how it once was. Don’t dwell on past memories (good or bad). Be thankful for them, but now focus on making new memories.

2) What might help? How do you need to adjust your expectations?

Focus on loving them and forgiving them just like they are.
Accept what is. Let go of the Walton Family Christmas “fantasy”. It’s not real.
Be flexible with your plans and expectations. Hold them loosely. Lower them. Change them. Consider doing things differently this year. Start a new tradition.
Look for a way to serve and give of yourself, your time, your energy and abilities to those in need. It will strengthen you and make you feel so much better as you shift your focus off of yourself! There are so many people who have much greater needs than we do. It reminds you that you are not alone in your struggle. Many others are struggling, too! It’s truly in giving that we receive. It’s also a natural way to feel better by releasing endorphins in your brain. So we can’t lose!

3) How might gift giving be different?
Don’t give cash or gifts that may be too easily returned for money, if your loved on is abusing substances.
Give less if it seems appropriate and gift cards are a good option. But be aware that some of them allow you to make a small purchase and get the cash back. Avoid that kind. Or you might shop at thrift stores where your gift can’t be returned.

Letting them shop for themselves also protects you from being hurt if they don’t like what you got. You might go shopping together then get coffee or something to eat afterwards.

4) How will you strengthen yourself ?

Listen to good music, especially praise and worship. It really lifts your spirits.
Read something inspirational every day; spend time in prayer and meditation seeking God’s help; hold onto His promises, reminding yourself of Truth. Go to a support group – I like Al Anon. It reminds me I’m not alone.
Keep taking one day at a time and be thankful for the little things. Make a “grateful” list. Add to it daily.
Take a nap if you need it! Get out and exercise! These things will relax and rejuvenate you!

5) What are my bottom line goals for this holiday time of year?
Decide what they are and focus on them. Remind yourself of them daily. Make notes to yourself and post them around to see and remind yourself of these goals. The birth of Christ is my main focus and all God has done for me through His son. I desire to show him my love and to show his love to others. My child is not the whole sum of my life. So I can be joyful and think more on what is really important to me about this holiday season! The choice is up to me. I can be intentional and not let the situation with my child ruin my ability to enjoy this season! I can still be joyful!

Let’s be prepared, think ahead and lower our stress level so we can enjoy the holidays!

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