The holidays are not just about happiness and joy. For some people they
can be a very difficult time. This is especially true when old
stressors are triggered. For instance, your grandchildren and teens may feel
especially sad, and perhaps, depressed wishing their parents were with them for
the holidays. The absence of the biological parent(s) can trigger feelings of rejection and / or abandonment. But for some children, even worse than the parent(s) absence, are broken promises made by the parent(s),
Some children and teens will be promised by one or both of their parents
they will visit with them, but the possibility they will be what the kids call “a no show” is high for many of your grandchildren. On the phone, the parent(s) may ask your grandchildren what they want for Christmas, but neither they nor the gift may show up. This results in feelings of anger, disappointment and frustration, for your grandchildren and perhaps, even for you.
A group of parenting grandparents I visited with recently told me how upset
their grandkids were when the parents promised something and
broke their promise. One teen in particular asked for a smart phone, and when
the parent did not buy if for her, she wanted grandma to buy it for her.
This kind of interaction, which I referred to in an earlier blog and in my book
a push and pull pattern, can make celebrating the holidays difficult for both
grandparents and grandchildren. The pressures and stressors in your life, as
well as the loneliness of missing the biological parent, your adult child, can
get to be too much. These feelings of depression and sadness can accumulate
during this time of year.
Here are some tips to keep some joy in your home during the holidays:
1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or
you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and
grief. It’s OK for you and your grandchildren to take time to cry or express
2. Reach out. Seek out social activities with neighbors / friends and find some community or church events you can attend together with your grandchildren. Volunteering your time to help others is a great way to lift your spirits. You and
your grandchildren may find opportunities to volunteer together, and experience the gift of receiving through giving.
3. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect, so don’t even set
that expectation! However, following some old traditions or creating some new
ones can make celebrating together fun. Even if the budget is tight, baking cookies or bread, writing notes to each other sharing what you each mean to each other, drawing
pictures, re-gifting, looking through family photo albums together, stringing
popcorn together, are some simple ways to stay on budget and share the joy of
giving and celebrating each other. Remember, Christmas cannot be found under the tree!
4. Learn to say no. If a visit from a relative is not in your or your
grandchildren’s best interest, then don’t allow it. Protect the safety and
security you have created for your grandkids, and don’t let guilt cloud your
5. Share stories. Children, and even teens, love to hear stories about
themselves. They also love to hear your stories about you when you were young.
They cherish re-visiting “silly” moments from the past.
Storytelling is a wonderful way to make family time precious, and is another
way to make you and your grandchildren feel very special. If there are not a
lot of good memories, then let your grandchildren know that this Holiday Season
you are all going to create some wonderful memories.
With Gratitude, I wish each of you warmth in your hearts now and throughout the New Year,