Every year there is somebody who will write or call me about a problem they have with family during the holidays. Everyone wants a piece of them. They feel torn, conflicted and guilty. But it doesn’t have to be this way if mamas and daddys could all remember to follow a few simple principles….
This time of year, somewhere above the Florida line, leaves are doing their thing… changing. It’s the signal to start planning for the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. And if you’re like me, and have added new members to your family in the last few years, holidays are likely to do same thing. CHANGE.
And holiday change isn’t always a beautiful thing. In fact it can get quite ugly.
We like our holiday patterns and traditions. We like knowing who’s coming to whose house on which year and who cooks the best turkey, and whips up the yummiest dessert, and all that.
But it seems like, right at the time we get it all figured out and we’re comfortable, our children leave home and get married and we add new people to our mix. Which is a good thing.
Except we have to make a…change.
There’s that dreaded word again.
Since we like things to be as they’ve always been (since the last big change) we expect our new people we’ve added to modify for us.
But, our new people have their own people, who most likely don’t want their routine shifted either.
And that’s when we can unintentionally put our kids in an awkward position.
To put it nicely, not even the best turkey dinner and pumpkin pie dessert can make up for all the hurts, and the feathers that get ruffled in the holiday shuffle.
When we inflict, we cause conflict.
Placing (inflicting) our holiday desires (demands) on our children and their spouses causes conflict, not only between us and them but also in their marriage. Though we may not be privy to it, trust me it happens.
And that’s not what we’er after.
If our intentions are pure and we truly want to do what’s best for everyone, and build healthy relationships for future holidays, it would be wise to filter our desires through the foolproof principles laid out in Philippians 2.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2: 3-4 ESV)
Here’s what that might look like.
Give time to adjust
Our kids are already making major changes in their lives when they get married. We don’t need to bombard them with our wants. Give them space and time to adjust to each other without interference. Time to set up their own house and traditions.
Have an open door
We should let our adult children and their spouses know the door to our home is always open and extend this welcome without pressure or guilt.
Release expectations Let go of the preconceived holiday forecast. Wipe the expectation slate clean. Expectations are a reality buzz-kill. When our expectations are too high, reality is at an all time low.
Assume the best Our kids aren’t out to hurt us. We don’t need to turn every disappointment into a personal offense.When they don’t do what we want them to do it’s not because they don’t love us. God has ordained them as a new family unit, one that must make decisions as to what’s best for them. Take the offense and defense off the home turf and leave it on the sports field where it belongs.
Accept what is. We raise our children up so they can become independent of us. God meant for it to be this way. (Genesis 2:24). Even though we’ve always been mom and will always be loved as mom, our job doling out orders and tasks (mothering) is done. It’s time to accept it.
Bathe the holiday with prayer. We should seek God’s will for our family and be open to the changes He might want to make in our heart. He knows our desires for family time. Ask Him for pure motives.
God will not not disappoint us.
I have to admit, when my kids got married, I wanted what I wanted, but what God wanted was for me to put my wants aside for His.
When we embrace God’s way, His ways will embrace us, transforming our perspective to one that is best for all.
Looking forward, pressing on and seeking God in every bump and twist in the road.