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Surviving the Holidays and Family Trauma

For many people, the holidays are a time of joy and excitement... we see friends and family that we may not have seen for several months prior, especially with the end of the Covid lockdowns. An opportunity to enjoy each other’s company, to embrace each other’s laughter and energy, and an opportunity to reinforce old relationships and to develop new connections.

And yet for many people, there can be a darker side to the holidays.

The holidays can represent a painful time for many people struggling to build positive relationships with friends and family members. Like many relationships, which can bring out either the best or the worst in us, the holidays can also bring out the best or the worst in us as well.

Unfortunately, although I think most parents do the best they can, with what they are given (usually in terms of parenting skills handed down from their own parents), our families of origin do not always set us up with the best tools to do well in life. Parenting styles, attachment styles, children’s temperaments, social economic status, relationship & environmental stress, environmental stability, family stability, social supports, culture, religion, tradition, are just a few factors that have drastic impacts in the way that we are raised, educated, how we see our world, and most importantly how we see “Our Selves.”

Sometimes, some of us, are lucky enough to have a parent that teaches us how to parent by leading with a good example.

I find, more often than not, we are usually taught how to parent by our own parents teaching us what not to do. One could argue that every generation has its own struggles, its own hills to climb, and thus that environment influences how they parent. But, as a species that is able to remember the past, I think it does make sense that we look to previous generations, and take the positives that we can, and learn from the negatives, to form a kind of new quasi-experimental parenting style. Not everything that we attempt will be positive and thus the future generation will then learn from our own mistakes and revamp how they want parenting to look.

For those of us that are lucky enough to have the conditions required to challenge old parenting models, the conscientiousness needed to reflect on how their behaviour affects others, and enough patience to implement long-term change, we can start to change family trauma. We reflect on how our parents and extended family parented and interacted with their children and youth, and then we encourage them to make positive changes when interacting with our own youth. If they are able to accommodate those changes, then we will typically have more contact with them. If they are unable to respect those boundaries, we will typically have less contact with them.

The Better Boundaries we Have, the Happier We Will Be.

Which brings me to another concept that I have often talked about time and time again: the Power of Boundaries. The better Boundaries we have, the happier we will be. So, if you are looking to make effective change in your life, starting with the trauma that we experience in our own childhood is a good start.

As we said on the farm, “It is never too late to change.”

Come heal, grow and create together


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