GIVING UP THE FANTASY OF THE PERFECT HOLIDAY
Most of us wish to give our children a fairy-tale holiday. Seeing our child’s face shining with joy is our biggest reward. But wanting to give our children the perfect holiday is a fantasy. Sometimes, it is driven by the hope that we will make up for the times we have not been ideal parents. Or maybe our yearn is rooted in our own childhood when we felt lonely or hurt. The holidays can be a magical time, but cooking, decorating, and buying presents are not the only ingredients needed to be happy.
Here are a few resources to spend happy and enjoyable holidays for everyone in the family:
1. Ditch the guilt. Even if you planned everything early, there will be always a last minute change or something that goes wrong. This is perfectly normal. Remember that to be happy, your child does not need a present she wants, but that you cannot afford. What your child needs is real love that cannot be bought. Deep love is expressed through time spent together, sharing activities, listening to her, and understanding her emotional needs.
2. Do not make up for not being a perfect parent. No one is. What matters is to be authentic to your child, to model graciously an imperfect human being, to apologize when it is necessary as it will show her the right path when she misbehaves. Give her unconditional love no matter what. You may disapprove her words and actions at times, but never who she is. This is truly the most beautiful gift you can offer to your child for the holidays and throughout the year.
3. Give your child time. With our busy schedules, most of us do not spend as much time as we would like with our children. So, take the opportunity of the holidays to catch up. Children spell love with the letters time. Be fully present with your child and she will remember this time with you for the rest of her life.
4. Let life be as it is. Give yourself permission to let go of perfection and just be yourself. Real holidays mean dealing with cranky children, messy kitchens, and botched recipes. This is part of life. Remember that joy comes from appreciating the wonder disguised in the moments of our everyday life. By offering your emotional generosity every chance you get, you give your child plenty of opportunities to be happy and to build memories she will be fond of later in life.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.