Preparing for the Empty Nest

At some point in your life as a parent, you’ll be faced with the fact that your child has grown up and wants to move out. That’s the plan, isn’t it? You became a parent not because you had this vision of always having a child at home to raise, right? Hopefully, part of your vision was seeing your child flourish and grow into an independent adult living on their own.empty nest

So if this is the vision, why is empty nest syndrome such an issue?

More importantly, how can you avoid suffering from it? How can you plan ahead so that you can happily make the transition?

To start, it’s important to recognize what empty nest syndrome is. Both men and women can suffer from it and Psychology Today defines it as “feelings of depression, sadness, and/or grief experienced by parents and caregivers after children come of age and leave their childhood homes.”

Looking at the life of a typical parent, it’s understandable that you might have these feelings. More than likely, being a parent has been a full-time job for two decades or more. This makes it hard to avoid feeling like being Mom or Dad is a major part of your identity. You may feel like you’re losing that part of yourself as your baby heads out the door. If you’re experiencing these feelings, this is a perfect opportunity to take some time for yourself and reassess the age old question:

“Who are you?”

Be willing to embrace whatever you’re feeling. You may feel sadness or grief and that’s okay. You may also feel joy and a sense of freedom. That’s okay, too. You may feel a complete rainbow of emotions during this transition. Journaling can help. Short sessions of deep breathing or meditation can also help. I also encourage you to continue tapping into your Internal Guidance System (IGS) to help process your thoughts and feelings.

If you were a stay-at-home parent, the change can be more stressful and startling than it would be for a parent who worked outside the home. You may have devoted a larger percentage of your day to day activities to caring for your children. You may have even put aside your career or hobbies in order to be there to chauffeur, chaperone, and support your child physically and emotionally.

If possible, you can set yourself up for a happier transition long before the actual expected departure date.

Start by recognizing that you’re more than your child’s parent. Start consciously adding other people into your life: choose some people who have similar interests, but aren’t the parents of your child’s friends. It’s important to make make the effort to find other adults who don’t know your child at all.

Even though you might not think you have it, carve out a block of time that is for you without your child. Use it to be with other adults whether you take a class, get back to your favorite hobby, read, explore, exercise your body, or volunteer in your community.

Carve out another block of time that’s for you and your spouse to be together as a couple. Have a date night or catch a matinee. Go for walks together. If it feels like the only thing you seem to have in common is your child, then it’s a good idea to spend the time to get to know each other again. Rediscover the man or woman you fell in love with. This is your chance to dream about the perfect vacations you can take alone together.

Place focus on your health. Move your body. Eat healthy foods that you can enjoy. Laying a healthy groundwork now will make it harder to fall prey to bad habits when your child is out of the house.

If you follow these simple steps now, you’ll have an easier transition when the time comes and your child moves out on their own. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever feel sadness or miss them. You raised a pretty awesome person, so it’s natural to miss them. By allowing yourself to have a life without your child, you’ve also given them time to explore life as an individual. Ironically, this separateness can be one of the greatest gifts you can give them and be what brings them back to visit, voluntarily and lovingly.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

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Why Fighting in Front of the Children May be a Good Idea

More than likely, you don’t like to fight in front of your children. Many experts encourage this behavior, with the idea being that disagreements shouldn’t happen in front of children and that parents are to present a united front for them with a loving and supportive façade.asking for fb login info

That’s where the problem can occur; the façade. There are several reasons why this façade can actually create a challenge for their children kids no matter how happy the parents are as individuals or together as a couple.

I’m not suggesting that you should have vicious battles, verbal or physical, in front of your children. You want your children to grow up in a loving environment and you want them to know they’re loved and in a safe place.

However, that doesn’t mean parents can never disagree. Calmly discussing differing opinions can be a great lesson for kids. It teaches them how to dialogue, to listen to someone else’s viewpoint, and to be able to articulate their own.

In addition to that, it demonstrates that two people can care for each other very much and still disagree on topics. When adults disagree and are able to negotiate a peaceful resolution, children learn the art of compromise. They learn of respecting other’s needs and positions, as well as how to seek alternatives rather than digging in their heels and insisting on getting their own way.

What about more heated discussions? Should they be held only behind closed doors?

Fights happen. You and your spouse are unique individuals with lots of different preferences and pressures impacting you on a daily basis. As much as you presumably love one another, sometimes those differences hit hard.

Again, I’m not talking about violence, slamming doors, and screaming tirades, but there are times when emotions are elevated. Tempers may flare and tears may flow. Do you want your children to witness these moments?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer here, but there are two different perspectives to consider at the very least.

It might feel right to have this sort of marital disagreement in private. Perhaps it deals with an adult topic, is a result of some unusual stress in your life, or maybe it’s just something between you and your spouse.

Keep in mind that your children are probably able to hear much of your discussion. They may not be able to discern all the words, but they can feel the energy and it doesn’t feel good. It may even be scary for them if they’ve never heard you raise your voices before. They won’t be feeling safe and they may even imagine that you’re getting a divorce.

If you have your disagreement in private, then you might consider how much you’ll share with your children. If they heard any of the discussion or felt the negative energy, it might be helpful for you to give an abbreviated account of the situation — hopefully as a united front. It’s important to remember that while you may have kissed and made up, it’s unlikely that your children heard that part, so they may think you’re still angry with one another.

Your arguing might also feel scary for them, but it’s also a small dose of reality. It gives you, your spouse and the children a chance to see it all the way through — the disagreement and that you and your spouse still love each other even when you fight.

Parents who never fight only exist in fairy tales. When you pretend you’re like those make-believe people, your children can grow up feeling like any disagreement is a sign that a relationship is over. Letting them see some of your imperfections may be scary for everyone involved, but in the long run, it may help your children grow into healthier and happier adults with full, loving relationships.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

When You Don’t Like Your Child’s Friends

Let’s face facts: sometimes you just don’t like some of your child’s friends. You’re only human after all and there are going to be people you just don’t resonate with well.

While that’s definitely okay, it can be challenging when your son or daughter’s BFF grates on your nerves. Chances are, you can handle an irritating friend even if you don’t understand the chemistry. You may not particularly enjoy having them around, but you love your children, so you try to be patient and deal.hold onto the jumprope

Sometimes it isn’t that the friend in question is irritating. They may just be so different that you’re uncomfortable.

As much as you like to think that you’re open-minded and accepting, there may be cases where someone’s so different from your experience that it’s a challenge for you to warm up to them.

These differences may be cultural, religious, or social. Depending on your background, it may be a challenge to accept or figure out how to communicate with a person from a different country or culture. It may feel like you don’t like this person because you don’t understand them or you have a fear that they might pull your child away from you and your own comfort zone

But what if it’s more than a personality issue? What if you’re concerned that a new friend is a bad influence on your child or even dangerous? Do you leave it alone or do you interfere?

Unless your child’s life is in immediate danger because of a friendship, it might be a good idea to take a little time before taking any action. As hard as it is to accept that your studious daughter who’s never gotten into trouble in her life has fallen for the bad boy in town, you sometimes have to accept that opposites attract.

Forbidding relationships, whether they’re friendships or romances, rarely work out the way you hope they do. More often than not, your fight against the union strengthens their resolve to be together rather than draw them apart. Instead of fighting it, you might want to step back and consider whether or not you’re making an honest, objective assessment of the troublesome person. Or could it be that there’s something else going on that’s influencing your feelings?

For example, if the new friend reminds you of someone from your past that history could unfavorably color your views. If the person from your past was a bad apple you may project that onto your child’s friend, no matter how wonderful the friend truly is.

That’s not to say that your instincts are incorrect. It could be that you’re picking up on subtle (or not so subtle) clues that are setting off alarm bells.

One of the best ways to know if your reaction to this person is accurate or if you’re projecting things from your past is to check in with your Internal Guidance System (IGS). As challenging as the relationship may be, your IGS will help you to see it for what it is, including how it may be a benefit to your son or daughter. You may find that by tapping into your IGS, you clearly see the person behind the different clothes, long hair, or foreign appearance, and see what your child sees — a wonderful human being.

As much as opposites do attract, it’s also true that people generally gravitate towards others with whom they have something in common. While it may seem like two incompatible statements on the surface, it really means that you can find important things in common with someone who seems quite different in other ways.

Your child deserves your trust in choosing their friends. They may befriend people you don’t care for. And as much as you’d prefer to love each and every one of their friends, it’s actually healthy for them to have a wide variety of people in their life.

It speaks highly of your child when they can see beyond the things that separate people and see the uniqueness in others even if they do pick their bad apples now and then. As hard as it may be for you to step back and watch that happen, it’s about their life and their unique path. In the end, they may learn some of their most important life lessons from the very people you wanted to keep them from.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Is My Child Being Bullied?

Is My Child Being Bullied?

When kids are bullied, there can be a wide range of negative consequences. Bullied children may develop behavioral issues of their own and in turn, start to bully other children or take it out on themselves in one way or another. As a parent, this is something that you should be aware of, but first, you need to ask yourself this:

What is Bullying?

According to StopBullying.gov, bullying is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” They continue to state that the behavior either is repeated or has the potential to be repeated.

However, while bullying is defined as occurring between school-aged children here, the behavior can continue into adulthood and the workplace and for that reason, it’s imperative that everyone plays a part in ending bullying at all ages and levels.

What do they mean by an imbalance of power? Often that power is sheer physical strength. The bully may be physically larger or stronger than the person who is the target. This is the stereotype where the bigger (usually dumber) kid in movies such as A Christmas Story, threaten the smaller kid unless they give up their lunch money.

Yet size and strength aren’t the only ways kids can bully one another. One of the most common forms of bullying today is “cyber-bullying,” or harassing someone online. The imbalance of power in this type of situation is about distributing information – often misinformation – that would embarrass the kid being bullied. In the old days, this bullying was done by cliques at school and in person, but today it can be managed away from other kids via texts and social media.

3 Types of Bullying

  1. Verbal bullying: when one person says (or writes) things about another. This could be as simple as teasing and name-calling or it could be comments that are far more severe, such as something sexual in nature or blatant threats.
  2. Social bullying: harming another person’s reputation or relationships. This can include excluding someone, gossiping and spreading rumors with the intent to purposefully embarrass someone.
  3. Physical Bullying: harming another’s body or possessions. This is the traditional schoolyard fare where someone actually strikes or kicks another. It also includes any other unwelcome physical contact including tripping another, spitting on someone, and taking or breaking their possessions.

How Do We Stop Bullying?

First of all, it’s important to have zero tolerance for behavior that resembles any of these three. It isn’t just kids being kids, but putting an end to this problem isn’t as simple as an automatic school suspension of the kids causing the problems. That has actually proven ineffective.

You also need to keep in mind that both bullies and their victims — including bystanders — suffer when the behavior is allowed to continue. By showing that bullying is unacceptable, adults and other kids can actually stop the behavior.

You need to teach your kids to be respectful of all the people involved when dealing with bullying behavior. It’s easy for an adult to demonstrate bullying behavior by demanding answers from children or making threats. Remember, as an adult, you’re in a position of power.

Tap into your Internal Guidance System (IGS) to remember what it feels like to be bullied. It’ll help guide you to separate the children and treat each as an individual. You can gather information and get to the truth, but don’t make snap judgments or expect kids to tell you the entire story while they’re standing in front of the person terrorizing them or even their own friends.

What Do I Tell My Child Who Has Been Bullied?

Always reassure your children. Let them know it’s not their fault. Also let them know that you’ll work with them to stop the bullying behavior. Encourage your children to talk to you about what’s happening and how they feel about it.

Also teach your children to tap into their IGS. Their IGS can help them to better understand others — even someone who might be making their lives miserable. Often kids who bully others are doing it because they themselves are being bullied. They might be suffering from some stress at home or they might be new and are trying to fit in. This doesn’t make it right, but it can help your son or daughter to understand that the behavior is more about the troublemaker than about your children.

Finally, help your children learn what to do to take care of themselves if they’re bullied again. This doesn’t mean teaching them how to fight back either verbally or physically. Instead, let them know there are safe places to go and adults they can turn to. Roleplay with them – use different responses such as how to leave the scene and how to get help as well as support from a friend or an adult.

Adults and kids must work together to support one another and prevent bullying. People need to learn to respect other people who are different from them. No one has to be exactly like any other human being — that would be an unrealistic goal, but people can learn to be kind to one another and honor their differences. When everyone learns to do this, not only will you see an end to bullying behavior in your children, but in adults as well.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Tips for Parents of an Introverted Child

Everyone has their own unique method for processing daily information. Some children are naturally more introverted than others and this can be a challenge for parents at times, especially if the parent happens to be naturally extroverted.kid with headphones

Many people think that an introverted kid is just shy and that they’ll grow out of it, however shyness and introversion are very different aspects to a person’s personality. While it’s possible for kids to be both shy and introverted, that doesn’t mean they can’t also be quite outgoing.

Sound confusing? It can be, especially since many sources will define an introvert as a shy person to begin with.

Yet introversion is more accurately defined as a means of processing information. It doesn’t refer to how easily you relate to other people.

As a parent, it’s important to be able to distinguish if your child is an introvert or if they’re shy.

You may want to help your children overcome their shyness, but you should also support and allow an introvert to process information in their natural way. To try and change that is similar to trying to make a left-handed child become right hand dominant.

Introverted people relish time alone. They may appear to be more concerned with their inner minds than the outer world. They may like to quietly observe others without actively participating. Introverts will often report feeling alone or lonely when they’re surrounded by a group of people they don’t know. And contrary to popular belief, introverts don’t always lock themselves away in their room. They may enjoy going to parties or being part of a team, but will probably want some quiet time afterwards in order to recharge.

This can be especially difficult for an extroverted parent to understand. Extroverts get a lot of energy from other people, so they might go out in order to recharge. For an introvert, being around a lot of people or even noise can be both physically and emotionally draining.

Your introverted child may be very thoughtful and able to carry on great conversations. Small talk may be more of a challenge for them, however. Watch your child as they interact with others. Many introverts work out problems and conversations in their minds silently. They aren’t likely to blurt things out without a thought.

Being an introvert is hardly a negative thing. A higher percentage of gifted children are categorized as introverted and introverts can succeed at any career — even ones that you might think would only be a fit for an outgoing personality. For example, many successful actors are actually introverts — they process the information internally and then they’re able to embody their characters regardless of what personalities they’re meant to be playing.

If your child is an introvert, be sure to give them plenty of quiet time. Recognize that if they have a delay in responding to you, it might just be that they’re thinking or feeling out their answer.

If you’re an extrovert, you may be used to verbally going over answers to life’s challenges. Don’t expect your child to follow your lead because it doesn’t mean they didn’t hear you when you spoke. They may be silently repeating your words in their heads as they work out their own solutions.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Parents Need a Break Too

Your kids get a nice break from their routines when school is out, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a break, too. Sure, you probably don’t get as much time off as your kids or even as much time as you would like, but it’s important for parents to take a break from their routine too.

While you might not get three months off work, appreciate the time you do have. It may be that your vacation consists of long weekends camping in the nearby mountains.tent

Or perhaps you get a week or two away. Even if you can’t travel, you can still enjoy a “stay-cation” and enjoy local parks or museums that just never seem to fit into your normal schedule.

Some parents love to work so much that they don’t want to take a vacation. Others think they’re indispensable to their employers or perhaps even quietly fear that if they go away, their boss will figure they’re expendable.

Remember the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?” This is true for adults and kids. Taking a break and have some fun is good for your mind and spirit. It can help you be a better parent, a better employee, and even a better and happier human being.

Think about different options for a break. What sounds good to you? Does your spirit cry out for a break away from the day to day cares? Perhaps you’d love a little quiet time at the shore. Are you stuck indoors most of the time? Maybe a river rafting adventure is just the right ticket.

Be willing to try something new. Allow your mind and spirit to be stimulated and to break out of the rut you might be in. Give your mind and body time to recharge and to get rebalanced.

Talk to your kids about a break for the entire family, but be sure to include your desires in the plan. So often, parents put their needs last. Remember, this is your break, too.  You and your family won’t experience all the benefits of a vacation if your needs aren’t being met and you’re just going along with the ride.

If your kids want to go camping and what you want is a trip to an art museum, see if there is a way you can have both. This can broaden the horizons of every member of your family and teach a lesson in standing up for yourself.

Your family might actually decide that you have plenty of together time at home and you would each prefer to spend a few days or a week on a special passion.  If you son wants to attend theater camp and your daughter wants to go to soccer camp, then what’s to stop you from having your own camp experience?

What may be the perfect vacation for one family is potentially sheer torture for yours. Don’t let other people tell you what you should do for your break(s). Pay attention to the messages you’re getting from your Internal Guidance System (IGS) and you’ll discover the right solution for your family. Take a little time off — you deserve it. You’ll come back refreshed and glad you did.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Raising Lucky Kids

fortune keyIt seems like some people are born lucky while others constantly have a dark cloud swirling overhead. How does a parent help ensure that their children have that lucky star? Luck is largely a result of one’s attitude and fortunately, that’s something that you can change.

Tom Brokaw is an example of a person who’s led a charmed life, but that’s not to say that his life has been without challenges.

In August of 2013, he was diagnosed with cancer, but at 75 years old, he’s had so many ups than downs that even his friends refer to his luck as “Brokaw’s lucky star.”

Being born in the right family at the right time is a big help when it comes to finding success in life, but luck goes beyond your circumstances. Brokaw offers tips that you can use to improve your luck and raise your own kids under their own lucky stars.

Mistakes

Everyone makes them. Lucky people learn from their mistakes and sometimes being lucky means recognizing the mistake early on so you can minimize the consequences. Other times, being lucky means getting a message from someone you care about and heeding it. And then there’s the matter of just learning a lesson from the mistake itself. In that sense, there are no mistakes because you might have needed that hiccup in order to learn something that’ll lead to your later success.

As a parent, you may want to keep your kids from making mistakes when in turn, that may be your biggest mistake yet. When you love your kids with their mistakes and all, they feel safer and are better equipped to live their lives to the fullest.

Opportunity

Brokaw admits that some of his luck came because he took advantage of opportunities when they arose. By listening to his Internal Guidance System (IGS), he was able to take on new challenges with confidence even when he didn’t think he wanted to make a move. This brought him to be in Berlin at the fall of the Berlin Wall, which was a high point in his career.

Teach your kids to tap into their IGS so they can recognize great opportunities. When you go with the Universal flow, you’re more likely to have an abundance of luck. As the Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

Attitude

By keeping a positive attitude, you can create your own luck. You’re open to opportunities and experiences when you face the day looking up rather than down. Feeling confident that you can handle any situation allows for many adventures.

Raise your kids to try a variety of things. Show them to take some risks – start small and build their confidence while they tap into their IGS to steer them towards what they want and away from what they don’t want. This builds up their positive attitude “muscle.”

Pay attention as you teach your kids to make their own luck. Let go of the idea of perfection — people aren’t perfect. Let yourself make mistakes every now and then, but learn from them. Notice the opportunities that come your way and keep your own attitude up. While you’re raising lucky kids, you may just notice your own lucky star shining brightly in the sky as well.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Tips for Those Suffering from Being Parentally Overwhelmed

headache cartoonAre you feeling overwhelmed? With all the demands you have placed on your shoulders as a parent, it’s no wonder. You have to pay the bills, earn the money to pay the bills, get your kids where they need to be, help them with their homework, take care of the house, make the meals, etc.

And that doesn’t even cover taking care of pets, your spouse, yourself, or even your parents – which is something that many people in the sandwich generation have to do.

If you weren’t feeling overwhelmed before, just reading that last paragraph may have gotten you there.

You hear all the time that you have to take time for yourself, but sometimes you don’t feel like you have time for that.

“Maybe later” is a common refrain. You give up sleep, eat at your desk, and find any way you can to gain a few extra minutes in the day to usually fit in something that has to be done for someone else.

As a life coach, I’ve seen this in so many people from every walk of life. What I find all these people have in common is that they’re caught in firefighter mode. They’re constantly jumping from one proverbial fire to another and they never feel like they’re getting ahead.

One of the problems with this mode of parenting is that you always feel stretched too thin. When you operate this way, everything takes on a sense of urgency. Your energy is either high because you’re running around putting out fires or it’s really low because you’re exhausted.

With all that urgency, you lose sight of your priorities. Just because something feels urgent doesn’t mean that it’s actually important. One of the best ways to escape firefighter mode is to be able to shift from extinguishing to distinguishing.

When you’re pulled in all directions, how do you distinguish between the important things and all the other stuff that’s demanding your attention?

The best way to do this is to tap into your Internal Guidance System (IGS). With practice — and yes, I know that means spending some of your valuable time practicing this skill — your IGS will help you to recognize which fires are truly important and deserving of your time and talents. You’ll know which items you need to address right now, which can be put aside for later or delegate to others, and even those you may decide to ignore entirely.

Some people will balk at the idea that they don’t have to handle everything on their to-do list. The problem is, when you live your life as if the goal is to check everything off the list, then everything on the list is given equal billing.

Take John Jr. to the dentist- — check. Wash the dog — check. Plan Mom’s 80th birthday celebration — check. Be sure the life insurance policy is up to date before you have that heart attack — check.

How would it feel to let something go on your list? If it can’t be dropped or delayed, can it be delegated? How does it feel to ask your children, your spouse, a co-worker, or a friend to take over a task? Are there things that make you feel happy about finishing? Can you focus on those? Feel your way through the list to determine which items are truly important to you.

For some, this concept will be very foreign. They may even say that it’s selfish. Maybe it is, but there’s nothing wrong with that! Focus on what brings you joy. Being overwhelmed and exhausted certainly isn’t joyful. Be willing to be a little selfish. Be willing to let go of a few projects or at least how they’re accomplished. Show your children what it means to prioritize, to delegate, and to actually experience rather than race through life.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Seeing & ‘Fessing Up to the Error of Your Ways

404 guyAs much as the television show of the same name declares “Father Knows Best,” there are times when both fathers and mothers make mistakes. It’s important for parents to recognize that not only will they make mistakes, but it’s actually healthy for them to make mistakes and even to let their kids know about the error.

It’s natural for you to want to be strong for your kids. In some ways, you’d probably like for your kids to see you as all-knowing and infallible.

However, that’s a lot of pressure on you as a parent and human being. It also gives your kids a false impression of who you are and what they can expect in life.

Making mistakes is part of life and part of growing and learning. Some mistakes are small and others are huge.

Hopefully with every mistake you make, you learn more about yourself and the world around you. That doesn’t mean you won’t still make mistakes in the future, but at least you’ll make different ones.

Teaching your kids that mistakes are part of growing up may seem pretty straightforward. You can encourage your kids to try new things. You may even tell them that it isn’t about avoiding failure, but about picking themselves back up again.

Yet if you never demonstrate or admit to making a mistake, they’ll feel that they’re expected to be perfect too.

The problem with trying to be perfect is that you can’t be perfect and continue to evolve. Most people are only perfect at something that they’ve done over and over again.

You may have an innate skill that allows you to be really good at something right from the start, but even then, improving at any skill will include making mistakes or failing.

People who are afraid of making mistakes stop taking risks. They only do things that they’re already confident in their ability to accomplish. For this reason alone, you should encourage your kids to take some risks, to explore, and to try new things.

When you only reward based on results, you may be inadvertently encouraging your kids to limit themselves. Rather than increasing their confidence, you may be instilling the idea that you’ll only love them when they do well.

To avoid this, you have to learn to recognize your children’s individual talents, but also reward them for trying new things. You also have to be willing to be a role model. It’s important to walk the talk and get out there, try new things, and make some mistakes. Once you make the mistake, show your kids some humility and pick yourself back up to try again – there’s no shame in failing and it’s important to convey this message however you can.

Another aspect of modeling mistakes for your kids is admitting when you’ve made a mistake that ended up hurting someone. It might be financial, physical, or an emotional hurt. When you admit to your children that you made a mistake that ended up in their being hurt, you give them the opportunity to explore their feelings. You also provide them with an example of how to apologize to another when something they do causes harm.

Your Internal Guidance System (IGS) can help you teach your children respect and empathy for others. Your IGS is also a great tool for your own awareness of when you’re doing well and when you’ve made a mistake. Making amends isn’t a sign of weakness. Instead, it’s great teaching opportunity. You get to demonstrate to your kids that although human beings are imperfect, it doesn’t keep them from being loving and kind.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Sharing Your Kids Over the Holidays

Most people’s lives don’t resemble movies, especially when it comes to the holidays. Even for those who have happy memories of their family gathering together for the holidays, the reality these days is different from anything Hollywood writes.
kids following santa
No longer are families consolidated in a single area of the country.

You’re more apt to be traveling across the country for a visit to your parents’ house than you are to trek across town.

You and your generation aren’t the first generation to experience this, but it’s likely even more commonplace today than when you were growing up.

Traveling adds to the stress than many people already feel about the holidays. Whether you’re staying with friends, family, or at a hotel, you’re away from the comforts of home.

On top of all of this, you have to learn how to share your kids.

For some families, sharing kids is a part of the regular routine. Kids may spend the week with Mom and weekends with Dad, or they live with Dad for most of the year and visit Mom on alternate vacations. Obviously, this kind of sharing continues over the holidays, but it’s not the only “kid sharing” you might be faced with.

Even in families with both parents living together, it’s important to share your kids with your extended family and you have to share your kids with their friends too. When your children get older, you have to share them with boyfriends, girlfriends, and even in-laws. Suddenly, “your” family looks very different and trying to plan your holidays has gotten more complicated.

While you may still dream of a holiday worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting, many people will happily settle if we don’t reenact movies like Home Alone or Bad Santa.
Of course, you should still envision the family holiday that you want. Just keep in mind that you cannot create in anyone else’s universe and their vision of the perfect vacation may be quite different from yours.

What is the best way to handle sharing the kids, no matter the age or circumstances? By talking it over with everyone involved, including the kids themselves.

You can each talk about how you’re feeling and what you’re most looking forward to this holiday. What if your college student has his heart set on going to Cabo with his buddies or your daughter-in-law wants to host the family dinner for the first time? Or maybe your youngster wants to stay with his mom this holiday because he has a special tournament he would have to miss if he spent it at your place?

Since it’s not possible for anyone to be in two different places at the same time, you may have to use some creativity and flexibility. If you focus on the feelings you want to have as opposed to the exact experiences, then you truly can have it all. After all, nothing stays the same, including your family. Your traditions may just need to be able to evolve a bit so you have years of happy holidays ahead.

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