The holidays can quickly become about everything they are not.
In the hustle and bustle, the stress and the rush, we can lose sight. For adopted children, holidays, which are about family and tradition, can also trigger sad thoughts and feelings.
Be open to and acknowledge your child’s feelings, which may include sadness, a feeling of loss, acting out or withdrawal. Slow down and focus on simple things — low-key gatherings, a consistent schedule and diet and time together.
You can acknowledge your child’s feelings, and even when they welcome the holidays with joy and happiness, you can help them honor their biological family as part of your holiday traditions. Ideas, such as:
- Honoring cultural and ethnic differences by combining your child’s traditions and yours
- Asking “How are you feeling? Are you thinking of your birth mom?” helps to open the conversation and validate and process feelings and thoughts
- Keep your dialog with your child open and LISTEN. Listening should be easy, but when conversations make parents uneasy, you may feel like you want to fix and make everything OK
- Use children’s books about adoption as conversation-starters
- Use family films about adoption, such as “Elf” and “Lilo and Stitch,” to reduce feelings of isolation and increase understanding and acceptance
You can also frame your conversations with an attitude of gratitude. While vital to recognize and talk about feelings, it’s also important to take positive steps to come to terms with the reality of a situation and identify what you and your child can be grateful for. The Wall Street Journal article “Raising Children With an Attitude of Gratitude” says:
“Giving thanks is no longer just holiday fare. A field of research on gratitude in kids is emerging, and early findings indicate parents’ instincts to elevate the topic are spot-on. Concrete benefits come to kids who literally count their blessings.”
The article also talks about scientific research that proves that gratitude:
- Increases happiness
- Leads to better relationships
- Decreases stress and negativity
- Decreases depression and improves moods
- Improves outlook on life and creates greater satisfaction
- Improves grades and creates a more positive outlook on school
For teens, Kidshealth.org offers a gratitude worksheet and points out that, “Brain research shows that positive emotions, like gratitude, can benefit our bodies and minds. Feeling grateful for what we have (instead of obsessing about what we don’t) helps with many different aspects of our lives — like relieving stress and boosting determination to try again when things don’t work out the way we want.”
Since Thanksgiving is the perfect time to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, get ready for the holidays and check out Pinterest for fun gratitude journals, projects, games and worksheets for kids.
“It’s not happy people who are thankful. It’s thankful people who are happy.”Unknown
Author: Destiny Adoption Services
Destiny Adoption Services is proud to support and guide birth parents and adoptive families on the journey of adoption. We’re a state licensed nonprofit adoption agency with four decades of adoption experience, and our professional team of experts includes moms, adoptive moms and birth mothers who provide compassion combined with trusted resources and skills.