Now is the time to take 10 minutes to radically improve your family relationships for the next year. No, I’m not talking about resolutions (who keeps ’em anyway?!). I’m talking about a more powerful tool.
While you’re sitting, reading this, open a word processing or text program on your computer, or just send yourself an email, and write down all your memories of HOW CHRISTMAS WENT – how it went wrong, but also the good things that happened. Surprising kindnesses; unexpected gifts; one solitary peaceful moment and what lead to it and how it felt; your favorite two gifts; your joy at picking out and giving a particular gift to someone else.
Then go ahead and vent at how angry you got over the stepkids or your ex or your spouse’s ex. Describe how you felt when they ignored you or disrespected you. Write about how you had hoped things would go, but how they fell through.
THEN think for a moment, honestly, about what you did to contribute to the tension. Were you more attentive to your own kids than the stepchildren? Did you start out expecting trouble, and got what you were expecting? Did you leave out some kids from the gift giving, or give them not-as-good gifts as others?
Far too often, we set ourselves up for failure by expecting the worst, acting like we expect it, then subtly preparing everyone else to do exactly what we expected. “I know that boy is going to be ungrateful, even though I’ve bent over backwards and given up my own happiness for him. I know he’s just going to ignore anything I give him.” “Here. This is yours.” “I knew it! Little brat! He never appreciates anything I do for him! I’ll never do anything for him again!“
And do you feel justified in your memories of these holidays? Are you still steaming over the way it fell apart? Write that down, too.
NOW, save your thoughts (or send the message to yourself) for at least six months. In the summer, open your memories – fresh memories, not distant one you can’t quite remember fully. Give yourself some time to re-view the events of this last week. See how they look with the perspective of time. You will most likely be very surprised at how they look.
If you wish, you can send me a copy of these notes. If you are wanting help in building a stronger relationship with these who hurt you last week, I can help. I’ll be glad to help you interpret your actions, and to plan better ways of dealing with them in the future. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. Not with the right help.
God bless your whole family for the whole next year!
STEPcoach Bob Collins