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.
Saturday Night Live’s sketch of Adele’s Hello song was the talk of the 2015 Thanksgiving season. The scene opens with a family sitting down for a Thanksgiving meal, with five adults and a child (a young girl who looks about 10 years old). Within a few moments different opinions are flying and the family is in heated argument. The little girl takes a deep breath, gets up, and turns on a cd player. Adele’s newest song, Hello, which had just been released a month prior, begins its melodious chords. The 5 adults straighten. Their faces turn gentle and soft. They begin to reach across the table and hold one another’s hand. “Hello from the other side…,” they sing along. After a few lines, the music fades. The adults compose themselves. Then, in an instant, they begin to squabble again. The girl goes back to the CD player. The ballad resumes. Faces soften and hands reach. It seems that the only way to connect the family is through this song. The sketch is aptly named, A Thanksgiving Miracle.
All families who come into my office, no matter what their particular issues are, all share one common characteristic; their family system is experiencing stress. In addition, most families have not been able to sit down together and effectively address each other’s concerns. Indeed, few families do; while it is common in many settings for people to meet together to solve problems (volunteer organizations, work, etc.), few families regularly set aside time to address concerns. As weeks fly by in a rush of work schedules, carpools, and sports practices, problems can often build up. Making time for family meetings can help families focus on improving the family atmosphere and family relationships, and head off problems before they build up. Here are some ideas for making meetings work:
One of my fondest memories growing up was family dinners. Every night we sat down and ate dinner together – all six of us. No matter if any of us had the best or worst day at school or work, we would stop to share food together. It wasn’t simply eating dinner together that was remarkable, it was what my parents did with this opportunity of having us all together. They created a positive and nurturing environment while modeling priceless life skills: love, social skills, and healthy eating habits. Although there were many times I wished our family was one of the “cool” families that ate dinner in front of the TV, now as an adult and parent I recognize the importance of having family meals. Don’t get me wrong, our family dinners were far from perfect. Sometimes they were disasters, but they did provide important messages.
It happened. You blinked and the month of January was over. Before you could process what happened, two days of February were forever gone from the calendar. While we cannot stop time in 2012, we can stop to evaluate how we want to spend time the New Year. So, here’s the million-dollar question: How do you want to spend the remaining 332 days of 2012 with your family?
A recent article from about.com revealed that over 50% of Americans vowed to appreciate loved ones and spend more time family and friends in 2012. If the truth is told, many of us are included in this number but have no clue how to realistically make this happen in our daily lives. Below are a few strategies for creating quality family time with your family this year.