How to enjoy the holidays with your teen
By: Dr. Erica Wollerman
I thought it might be nice to take a short break from our parenting teens and the challenges of being a teen blog series to focus a bit more on the holidays in our families. The holidays are always such a busy time for families as well as a difficult one for many reasons. Some families are grieving family members who have passed or changes in their family that have affected who is present for the holidays. Others are just so overscheduled and busy with travel, gifts, events, hosting family, and All. The. Things. we are supposed to do that it is not the most enjoyable of seasons. I wanted to post a bit about how to try and enjoy the holidays, particularly if you have a teen at home.
Let’s start off with a general holiday survival tip - My biggest tip for enjoying the holidays that really can apply to any family is to work on reducing your obligations and replacing them with things you actually enjoy. Often, as parents, we feel responsible for cultivating the perfect holiday with perfect traditions. For many people, this is overwhelming and creates a sense of irritation when your efforts are not recognized or even appreciated by your family members. I encourage families to focus on the things and events about the holidays that they truly enjoy and cut everything else out. It’s okay not to do everything and it’s even better to do the things you love so that it truly can be a time of connection and enjoyment as a family!
My two tips for enjoying holidays with a teen are:
1. Meet them where they are at
This is huge. I’ve had years of conversations with parents who tell me all the things they hope and want to do with their teen during their break. Or, what they think their teen “should” be doing. I encourage parents all the time to really put themselves in their kids’ shoes. Teens are chronically tired, stressed, and overwhelmed these days. When you feel that way, would you really want your parents putting more demands on you? Probably not. Check in with them about what they are hoping for over break and make sure to set up clear expectations about things you really need them to participate in or take care of. The more this is a dialogue, rather than a top down exercise in telling them what to do, the better it will go!
2. Expect less
In general, I would say that the above tip is going to require this tip. You will most likely be hoping for more than your teen can or is willing to give. If you go into the holidays expecting gratitude, lots of family time playing board games, and definitely not a lot of “screen time” or time with friends, you are ultimately setting yourself up for disappointment and hurt feelings. Every teen I work with looks at breaks from school as opportunities to sleep, rest, watch TV, and spend time with their friends. Even the ones who have great relationships with their parents. I repeat, even the ones who love spending time with their parents. As a parent, it is important not to interpret your teen’s disinterest in whatever it is you are suggesting as a reflection of how much they care about you or want to be with you. It is a reflection of their current place and stage in life.
I hope this is helpful! I wish all of you a happy holiday season and remember, we are here to help at Thrive even during the holidays! Call or email us today if you would like more information about how we can help you and your family thrive!
At Thrive, we take a positive, client centered approach to therapy that is focused on creating a genuine connection with our clients. If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are always welcome regarding any issues around child or teen psychotherapy services in San Diego by Thrive Therapy Studio.
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