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Parenting Through Family Holidays

At Thanksgiving, we all want to spend special time with family. The holiday is tailored for just these, moments with our most precious relationships and special individuals. Kids, parents, grandparents, extended family and friends are the ones we want close, because they make us who we are.

Throw in a few family birthdays, Christmas, annual holidays, additional family events and our children quickly begin to appreciate family times and the people who are and should be in their lives.

Our children start to understand that mom and dad should be there and if not they ask why.

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As adults who are no longer connected to our child’s other biological parent, we often explain, with valid responses and solid reasoning why it may not be possible for the other parent to be present. These explanations often work as they are taken verbatim by children until the other parent offers a different reason and says they want to be a part of their children’s life.

It doesn’t take long for those ‘why it may not be possible’ reasons to quickly turn to resentment toward either one or both parents. Children can quickly equate the absence of the non-custodial parent with an unwillingness and/or refusal to be part of their unfolding life or to the efforts of their parent at home to keep the other parent from spending time with them.

As the parent doing the heavy lifting of raising the child with responsibilities for taking them to school, feeding and clothing, tending to a hurt  aknee, watching them at practice and games and seeing the ups and downs of their life, we want to make sure they don’t get hurt physically or emotionally.

Our need to protect our kids’ feelings from someone who has hurt us or them has to be carefully managed. Resentment and bitterness towards a parent is not something easily addressed and can be held by children long after their adolescent, teenage and adolescent years are over.

It’s always best to manage child-parent situations in the present with the child having a voice in what he or she wants. Children may not always know, but getting them to express how they feel in their own words makes them part of the process when the dealing with conflicting feelings for parents.

Thanksgiving is a time to share our time with those special to us. Our children learn this quickly and have the same wishes, let’s help them to share in it and be thankful for all that we have.

Debbie Miles-Senior is a Director of Side By Side Services a Supervised Access Centre in Durham