Article by Angela Morlu, Communications Specialist, Department of Family Services
(Posted 2020 December)
Over the last year, many families have been separated from loved ones for longer stretches of time than usual. If you have arranged to be together safely, then cherish that time, and be grateful. As parents of adult children, here are some tips to make the holidays go smoother.
1. Keep a positive outlook.
Choosing to focus on the things that are going well in any situation will make you a pleasure to be around. Look for the good decisions your adult children are making. Ask them about their lives. Continue to praise them for the things that they are doing well. Share their excitement about their children’s successes. Be their best cheerleader!
2. Ask before you offer advice.
There is nothing more gratifying than when your child asks you for advice on a situation. On the flip side, there is nothing worse than having unsolicited advice forced on you from a well-meaning parent. If your son is sharing with you about a situation, he may just want to vent. Your daughter might not want you to try to fix her problems. So, ask “Would you like advice or do you just want me to listen?” If your children feel like you are willing to listen without judgment, rest-assured there will be times when they ask for your opinion.
3. When they ask, be helpful.
Resist the temptation to criticize choices your children are making. Offer suggestions that can provide them with support, and examples from your own life of how you dealt with a similar situation. Be honest and share your own mistakes and how they have shaped your life. Be a resource and a guide.
4. Let go of expectations.
Let go of your vision of the perfect family holiday and embrace reality. Any celebration will have hiccups. Crying babies, traffic delays, and plumbing emergencies are all a part of life. Stop expecting a “perfect” holiday and begin to accept that disruptions and disagreements can happen, and a joyful celebration can continue.
5. Keep calm and celebrate.
Don’t be overcome by circumstances. Practice mindfulness to keep yourself in a place of calm and peace. Focus on being present in that moment, no matter what you are doing. Be aware of yourself and connect to those with you. Draw on your beliefs to keep focused on what you value most in life.
With a little practice and a new outlook, you will be on your way to truly enjoying the time spent with family this holiday season.
This article is part of the Golden Gazette monthly newsletter which covers a variety of topics and community news concerning older adults and caregivers in Fairfax County. Are you new to the Golden Gazette? Don’t miss out on future newsletters! Subscribe to get the electronic or free printed version mailed to you. Have a suggestion for a topic? Share it in an email or call 703-324-GOLD (4653).