Parenting Gratitude Guide for the Holidays


5 Tips to keep you grounded, sane and smiling from Turkey Day to the New Year

Your child tosses a leftover Thanksgiving turkey leg at the TV while you’re trying to watch Frozen. You gonna let it go, let it go, let it gooooo?

Instead of twirling the Hanukkah dreidel, your child decides to pelt his brother with it. Are you going to spin out of control?

The Christmas Tree is perfectly trimmed, until your child joins the cat in gleefully bringing the whole thing tumbling down. Are you headed for a crash?

As you share ancestral stories during traditional Kwanzaa crafting, your child is more interested in trying to eat paste. Feel like you’re coming unglued?

Part of prevention education here at Childhelp is supporting parents as they do their best to make the season bright for the children they love. When scowls replace the smiles you were hoping for, or acting-out behaviors dampen holiday spirits, parents can use a time-out to regroup, reach out and regulate. Here are a few tips to find gratitude even while your little angel is giving you attitude.

ONE: I am GRATEFUL we are not a perfect family.

Self-help mantras often tell us to repeat positive affirmations over and over until we can live them. This sets up standards that feel impossible to achieve. What if parents could start the day giving themselves a break and being grateful for the amazing (and sometimes messy) families that they love? When we give up the unrealistic notion of perfection, we become appreciative of the ways in which each of us is unique.

TWO: I am GRATEFUL to know that social media is not real life

Do homemade cupcakes on Instagram look better than the store-bought specials you picked up in a rush? Are you seeing Facebook family photos taken by professionals where everyone is wearing the same outfit as you struggle to get your kids to sit still for one picture? Is your single friend writing clever tweets while you’re so tired after staying up with the new baby that you couldn’t put a sentence together? Social media is not real. We repeat: SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REAL. Never hold yourself to a carefully curated story that doesn’t show the true turmoil of a wild week, the little daily stressors and the regular boredom that hits us all. If you are comparing your life to others, consider a little social media holiday this season.

THREE: I am GRATEFUL that I can make healthy choices

Once you’re feeling out of control, everything is amplified and over-the-top. This is when it’s essential to take a time-out. If it works for kids, it can work for us. A time-out is one of the healthiest choices you can make when you feel stressed or rageful. How you handle these moments will impact how your children deal with difficult situations in the future. If you can make healthier choices during the holidays (watching alcohol intake, eating well, getting enough sleep and managing expectations), you will find a lot more joy in the little things. If you aren’t making preventative choices in advance, stepping away from a heated moment can make a great difference for you, your family and your child. And it’s OK to tell everyone the truth, “Mama is feeling CRAZY MAD right now and I’m stepping outside to take a few breaths and calm down!”

FOUR: I am GRATEFUL I don’t have to do this alone

Single parents can feel doubly burdened this time of the year and the pandemic adds a layer of stress in coordinating pickups and scheduling holiday events. Seek to communicate clearly and respectfully with other helpers in your child’s life. Try not to focus on the past, but look for ways to share holiday duties with co-parents, engage friends and family in safe ways, and even reach out to call/text/chat for addition resources through our Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-422-4453).

FIVE: “I am GRATEFUL you are my child.”

When parents find gratitude during tough times, it not only instructs children on building resilience, but it lets little burgeoning people know that they are worthwhile, valued and truly loved. Tell your child how much they mean to you as often as you can.

Because I love you, I don’t ask you to be perfect. Because I love you, I want our family to live for today and not tomorrow’s social media post. Because I love you, I am trying to make healthy choices that make me happier. Because I love you, I ask for help when I need it. Because I love you, I want to tell you that I am so grateful you are my child.