Parenting with the best of intentions can still be challenging during the holidays. The rush of shopping in crowds and traffic, demanding work schedules to get things off our to-do lists and planning for the arrival of family can take a toll.
I have always been told that life has balance. In some belief systems the idea exists for every ounce of pleasure comes an ounce of pain. Although no one likes pain, we do seem to find our share. With holiday stress comes feelings of guilt for what we cannot provide and from a lack of the most precious commodity – time.
With a shortage of time brings a shortage of patience. I have been inpatient with ex-wives (coincidence?) and I have been impatient with peers, other drivers on the highway, and shoppers in a feeding frenzy of gift buying, and even friends.
And yet, somehow and for reasons I cannot truly explain, I have almost unlimited patience for children. I have no biological offspring of my own and yet seem surrounded by them when I least expect. When I look into their eyes I see what the holiday is truly about. Their joy and excitement becomes mine. Perhaps I live vicariously through their glee at discovery or for their passion for play. From the simple building of a snowman to the twinkling of lights on a tree, I see hope. I see the future.
And, I see the pain when adults accidentally hurt them with a harsh tone or words, and I see the remorse and hurt in the eyes of the parent when they realize that words spoken in anger cannot be recalled. We can apologize but the moment of joy is gone. Their little faces show only disappointment.
Take a breath. Live in the moment with them. Yes, little ones can be demanding, and because of how their young minds work, they will burst out with what they want to do or to see under the tree. They can interrupt conversations, ask you questions at inconvenient times, but they are excited. Time spent with them, not money, is a precious gift. The more children feel and understand they can talk with adults the easier talking will be as they grow to adulthood. And, if there was more talking in the world there would be less hitting.
Maybe if we included little ones in our holiday activities and try less to make it just for them we can find balance. Children can truly mess up a kitchen when they help cook. They can set a dining table in exactly the wrong order for silverware and, so what. Should we really care at this moment? They have helped and the actual level of their contribution toward perfection is insignificant compared to the value of their effort, and perhaps they can see a side of us we should show more often – they are needed and wanted and not merely tolerated.
– It all comes back to the concept of balance.
A moment for a thought before speaking in anger: Will you hurt less if others hurt more?
This holiday season, take a breath before you speak. Good will toward all, children in particular. It’s a start.
— Lee Fjelstad