Don’t use holidays as time to punish family

  • Saturday, January 4, 2014

Wishing readers all much joy and peace — solutions to pressing problems, hope, patience, seeking the best resources, kindness and always love.

Dear Liz,

I usually have it together for Christmas. This year, for some reason, I feel like I am losing it.

There is a new family in our lives — and they are potentially going to be related by marriage.

I already have love for them, but don’t want to give out much more information — to keep it a bit more private.

My son, who is part of that equation, is mad at me.

He says I gave the potential “step” children too much for Christmas (because they have been uncooperative and getting in trouble. They are pre-teens.)

They are out of town, so I lovingly put together a Christmas box which (by our standards) is conservative but very thoughtful. It includes stocking-stuffers and lots of love. That’s my side of the story.

And now my son is not talking to me, which is excruciatingly painful.

It’s hard enough being away from them over Christmas. He already withheld their birthday gifts.

What can I do. I am both hurt and mad.

Sad at Christmas

Dear “Sad,”

The holiday blues is a real thing for very real reasons like you have described. Parents ultimately can control what their kids keep or get to use after Christmas, but I am with you — we should not use Christmas itself, or gifts, as punishment. (After the fact, by controlling time with said item is different.)

It sounds like you are simply being a loving grandma. It certainly does hurt to have such contention any time, let alone the holidays. Your son sounds controlling and I hope that will not be an issue that could ruin this potential family. I hope they will seek pre-marital counseling — and counseling with the children if they are blending families.

As for what you can do, pray for comfort — and give him time. There is more going on here. There could be old resentments toward you that eventually needs to be addressed and cleared up if at all possible.

Meantime, focus on what you do have control over. Your son is the one losing out. I hope he comes to his senses soon.

Dear Liz,

What is with the crazy driving in our area? You mentioned it a number of weeks ago, but I’ve never seen it this bad in and around Mount Pleasant. More accidents than I have ever seen. We are usually a kinder, gentler town, letting people in front of us and not racing to snag a parking space. What’s up, people?

Revved up

Dear “Revved,”

Me too. I have had more close calls, have been cut off more in the past month than ever before in my 20-plus years in this area. Yeah, what’s up people? Of all times of the year, we need to slow down, make sure we are driving sober and not distracted. There is nothing worse than a preventable tragedy during the holidays. Put on some soothing music and slow down. It needs to be the “most wonderful time of the year” on the roads, too.

Contact Liz via asksharpliz@gmail.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health.

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