If your family is like most, its interactions are far from the stuff of warm-and-cozy, picture-perfect holiday gatherings. With Christmas decorations emerging before Halloween and the gift-giving frenzy becoming a year-round endeavor, even positive holiday festivities can easily be followed by feeling let down or even depressed. For parents of troubled teens, these feelings can be even more intense.
While I’d be amiss to try to give you a recipe for that ideal holiday time for which all our hearts yearn, I can give you some practical (and biblical) advice on how to at least avoid some of the worst-possible-scenarios we all dread.
Resist the Temptation To Avoid Issues
I admit it: With less-than-ideal family relationships of my own, I’ve sometimes given in to this temptation. In an effort to avoid conflict at a time when (almost) everyone wants to enjoy good cheer, I’ve held off necessary attempts at conflict resolution. The result can be exactly opposite the desired effect.
While no one likes the conflict part of taking steps toward resolving feelings and issues, everyone appreciates the resolution. If the issue at hand is one that can be resolved, family members will be extra motivated to offer forgiveness and do their part to achieve real harmony, which is far better than a pretense of peace all while under-the-surface frustrations run rampant.
Resist the Temptation To Pout
Aside from that Christmas miracle so common in the movies, perhaps your family issues aren’t ones that promise to be resolved anytime soon. Now, I’m not suggesting a cynical or callous demeanor, but at the same time, we need to accept whatever God has allowed in our lives. After all, godliness with contentment are truly desired attributes (1 Timothy 6:6). Contentment is easy when your family relationships meet your expectations or you get everything on your Christmas list. None of us will see all our dreams or whims fulfilled in this life, though. In the mean time, we need to resist the constant urge to complain, either audibly or internally.
Resist the Temptation To Compare
Just because a family looks adorable in a photograph, posing in matching snowflake pajamas and huddled together in front of a gorgeous mantle, does not mean that their relationships are as perfect as their appearance may be. Even still, we can easily look at others’ families and assume that they have it better than we do. No time is this more poignant than over the holidays. Perhaps you don’t compare your family to those of others, but you do look back and wish for the days before either a loved one died, your sister moved away, or your kids became old enough to complain or grow complacent. Don’t. The only thing that your comparing & memories will achieve is the opposite of what you want.
As you resist these temptations, you’ll be well on your way to avoiding the despair that can creep in, amid the festivities. In Part 2, we’ll look at how you can hone in on the hope and joy that seem so elusive this time of year.