Before the election my colleague Stacey Schwenker posted an excellent blog on striving to thrive during the holidays. Since then we have seen stress levels skyrocket as folks are contemplating a Thanksgiving with family members polarized across the political divide. Whether you are facing one holiday meal or a few days of enforced family time, does thought of the upcoming Thanksgiving feel overwhelming or horrifying? If so, here are some ideas that might help you navigate this minefield.
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This blog is written by the clinicians at Jonah Green and Associates, a mental health practice based in Kensington, MD that provides quality services for children, teens, families, and adults. It is intended as a resource for families who are seeking to expand their knowledge about mental health and mental health services, and also as a resource for families who are seeking quality mental health services, especially in the mid-Atlantic region. Please feel free to post questions and comments on any of the entries as well as on any topics or articles from our companion web site www.childandfamilymentalhealth.com.
Sibling rivalry ranks high in the litany of parent complaints. In bewilderment we ask, “Why can’t they just get along? Why do they keep fighting?” The warfare heats up and we fret, “Someone’s going to get badly hurt!” We worry, “What’s wrong with them? Where did I go wrong as a parent?” It can all feel more overwhelming and discouraging than world peace.
When my kids were little, whining ranked right up there as one of my least favorite of their behaviors. I certainly struggled more with how to handle tantrums and worried more about school issues, but when my kids whined at me, it pushed my buttons the way other things did not. Like finger nails on a black board, it just got to me.
At this time of year I enjoy looking through the flood of catalogs and matching up items that catch my eye with people that I know. Rarely do I actually buy these things for them, but it’s still fun. There is one slogan t-shirt I keep returning to, but I’m not sure who would receive it in the spirit I intend. Maybe they would if I wrapped it in this blog. The shirt proudly announces, “I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, I think I’ll make a few more.” I like the reminder that our best learning comes from our own experiences and mistakes. Or as another favorite quote of mine, attributed to Mark Twain, says, “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions.”
When my grandmother was nine years old, her parents sent her off alone to America. She went with a bundle of belongings and a Russian-English dictionary, across the ocean to live with a married, older sister in New York City. The family had scrimped and saved to make this possible, knowing all the while that they might never see their beloved daughter again. She had worked hard to prepare, mastering frugality and other life skills, and she flourished here, despite the poverty. Now one-hundred and seven years have passed and I, too, am heading to New York. Although I am only going for one week, I am taking more with me than my grandmother took when she emigrated. Furthermore, I am probably leaving behind in my house more things than her entire community (either in Russia or in New York) possessed. While my grandmother was challenged by the scarcities in her world, children today have to learn to manage the abundance, even excess, of ours.