Advent Daily: Practical Strategies for Empowered Parenting
December 8, 2016
Day Eight: Time with Extended Family
I come from a large family... I am one of 4 girls, 1 boy. Each of my parents come from families with four children. And, the families get even bigger the farther back you go. Growing up, when I was with family, I was with a lot of family! It was very different for my husband. And today, while I am energized by large groups of people, he has to retreat. Practice helps.
The practice of being with a large, extended family has been a blessing to me in many ways. I have been exposed to people of many temperaments and personalities, and I have learned how to get along well with most people. I have waited for hours for folks to arrive for events, and I have learned patience. I have sat for hours on a front porch swing talking with my grandfather, and I learned that older generations have a great deal to share and to teach the young. As a mother, I have learned the necessity of extended family to help round out "the village."
These blessings offer valuable experiences for us and for our kids. Equally as valuable is how we prepare for the stress of being with extended family. And we all know there is stress! On all kinds of levels.
This is a great opportunity to put self care into practice as it will be especially important to fuel yourself emotionally. In addition, some children, regardless of age, will be overwhelmed by large gatherings, and they will need you to be sound and present.
Use family meetings/dinners to talk about upcoming family events and give everyone time to share about they may be looking forward to and what they do not look forward to. Listen to and validate everyone's feelings about these situations.
Determine ahead of time how long you will stay and stick to it!
Give your self, your spouse, and your kids permission to take breaks from the fun, as needed. Taking breaks helps us to remain respectful and in control.
When possible, suggest that family gatherings happen away from the home--on neutral territory, if you will.
These are just a few ideas to get you started! I am certain that more great ideas will come out of family dinners. The more you do it the easier it becomes, and the more you will reap the great joy and blessings that gatherings with extended family have to offer!
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