The holiday season often brings us together with our families, and while these gatherings can be joyous occasions, they can also be challenging, especially when our parenting style differs from that of our relatives. It’s not uncommon to feel judged or criticized for our choices, which can create tension and defensiveness.
At first, I found myself on the defensive, firmly believing that my way of parenting was the right way, while everyone else’s approach was wrong. This mindset led me to confrontations and attempting to prove my family wrong. However, I soon realized that we simply had different values, rules, and ways of living. It was essential to shift my perspective and acknowledge that our differences didn’t make either side inherently right or wrong.
To navigate these situations successfully, I learned the importance of staying connected to my own values and supporting my child in understanding the environment we were entering. For example, if manners were highly valued in my family, I would communicate this to my child before the gathering. I explained the expectations, rules, and values that were important in my family’s home. It wasn’t about forcing my child to conform, but rather about demonstrating love for others values as well as our own.
Similarly, just as we prepare our children for school by explaining the expectations and rules, we can do the same for family gatherings. By setting clear expectations and discussing the lay of the land, we allow our children to make informed choices about how they want to show up. It’s crucial to emphasize that these expectations are not about right or wrong but about understanding and respecting the values of the environment we are entering.
Navigating family gatherings during the holiday season can be emotionally charged, but by reframing our mindset, we can approach these situations with grace and understanding. Rather than seeing our family’s values as a threat, we can hold onto our own values while supporting our children in understanding and adapting to the expectations they may encounter. This approach fosters open communication, empathy, and respect for different perspectives.
Remember, it’s not about proving anyone wrong or making anyone right. It’s about creating an environment of love, acceptance, and understanding, where we can all come together and celebrate the joy of being with our loved ones during this special time of year.