Comfort ‘n Joy?

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As the holidays are approaching quickly, some people think changed behaviour of some friends and relatives…sometimes it is less to be desired.   i.e. more fighting, arguing, behaving inappropriately including sexually.

Here are a few snippets of stories I have heard over the years talking with youths:

It may be the first Christmas without mom and dad together;  When  parents separate a child may have mixed feelings. He may remember the fighting when they were all together.  He may feel torn with sad or angry feelings towards one parent or both.  Change is never easy but it is more difficult for youths especially teens.  Keep that in mind when making plans for the holidays.

A youth may feel guilty being more with one parent and not know how to reach out to the other parent. How can a parent help a child sort this out?  It is totally okay to feel these emotions..confusion, guilt, anger…and hope. It’s just nice to have a shoulder to lean on when it gets messy in the mind and confusing.

Some youths are worried their family have enough money to get through the year. Many people are laid off end of December and contracts are sometimes renewed only in the spring.  Some older youths (teens) feel they should quit school to help the family by getting a job.

Some families are transferred in other parts of the country or the world due to employment…parents have to move their families…sometimes children have to say goodbye to long-term friends.  Getting through  the holidays in a new place can be exciting and yet it can be overwhelming as well. 

For some families and youths, this is a marked season without a special friend or family member…grieving this loss, and their absence is felt more so during certain holidays.

For many youths who have lost a loved one, regardless when that was…the holidays are often difficult because it is a time to share with loved ones and that person is not among them.  And so, the holidays can be an “opportunity” rather to take time and think about this person and include her or him in your well wishes during the holidays. 

Let’s be honest.  It is a bittersweet time for adults too. Some of us have lost a parent or both. So keep in mind that it’s okay to talk about it. Normalizing grief and loss on important holidays is acknowledging that big elephant in the living room.  Once that’s out in the open, it will actually give a sense of relief for everyone.

This is a time of year that many teens are invited to parties, exposed to alcohol and drugs; they need to know they can call for a ride without getting scolded…is this a possibility for many? 

Some youths share they feel a bit left out because they know their friends are celebrating Christmas but it is not part of their culture or religion.  They share that it is not only at school or with friends but it is everywhere they go…the television, the radio, the stores, the newspapers…all bombarded with this Christmas cheer that is a bit foreign to them.

It may be a good time to emphasize that the meaning of this word ‘Christmas’ and that for many it is an opportunity  to connect with people and tell them how much they care about them; it can mean having people over for the holidays to share a good meal and that that sense of giving and sharing is perhaps more universal this time of year.     

The holidays  represent many diverse things for youths and families.  There is the joy of getting together and yet the stress of having enough time off to enjoy this time with the children.  There are cultural and religious differences that some face and are forced to be off work and exposed to the commercial aspect of this time of year. Let’s face it, even those who celebrate Christmas get fed up being bombarded by the commercialization too.

Ultimately, it is supposed to be a time of year to bring friends and families together; sometimes we need to be more creative in the gatherings and have more “pot lucks”.  Children also feel the stress and depending on their age, are often confused as to who they are supposed to act.

Planning, decorating and cooking and baking…all of these traditions can be part of the fun too…how are you planning your holidays?  Children feel special when they are given certain roles and tasks too.  What have you planned for your children?  Remember, if you are anxious and stressed about the holidays, chances are some of your children may be feeling some of this angst too.  They are like sponges, soaking up emotions we had no idea they could relate to. Usually the younger youths do not understand what that emotion is, they just feel something…

Some families want to also teach values to their children and it is a time of year where families volunteer at a food bank for a day or a soup kitchen too! 

Wishing you warmth, love and health … Happy Holidays!

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, December 17, 2013

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