The holiday season can be a very difficult time for parents whose sons and daughters are engaging in destructive, unwise behaviors or suffer with a mental illness. In my last blog I mentioned three questions to help you prepare for this time of year. We wish for the Norman Rockwell experience, but our experience often falls far short. Here are two more questions to consider that I believe will help lessen your hurt and disappointment if things don’t turn out as you hoped. I’ve been there and I know how hard it can be. To review, here are questions one through three from my last blog posted on November 11th.
1) Adjust or lower your expectations. What are some expectations you have of your child for this holiday season?
2) Consider doing things differently. Relevant to the coming holidays, what are some traditions that are special to you?
3) Focus on others. Look for a way to help someone else who has a need, is hurting or lonely.
Now for the next two questions:
4) How will you strengthen yourself ?
Listen to your favorite music, especially praise and worship. Read something inspirational every day; spend time in prayer and meditation, as you seek 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. Start a gratitude list. Add to it daily. If you can, take a nap to refresh yourself. Get some exercise. These things will relax and rejuvenate you!
5) What are your goals for this holiday season?
Decide what they are and focus on them. Remind yourself of them daily. Make notes to yourself and post them as a reminder. Leading up to Thanksgiving I focus on what I’m grateful for. After that I focus on the meaning of the birth of Christ. I reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness. I seek ways to show his love to others.
My child is not the whole sum of my life. Therefore, I can be joyful and give energy to what’s really important to me during the 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 Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holidays may by difficult, but they can still be special.
I encourage you to think ahead, prepare yourself and focus on others. If you do, you can lower your stress level and even enjoy the coming holiday season.
These Bible verses help me:
“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past; see I am doing a new thing. . . ” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Father, help each parent reading this to find the way that is best for them to not be overcome by greater sadness, hurt and disappointment this holiday season. Speak to their hearts. Show them your way to joy and comfort while their child is far from them. Bless them I ask, in Jesus’ name. Amen.