parenting Uncategorized

Separating the relationship from the jobs of the holiday season

Nine years ago I wrote this post called “Free but not cheap” that really resonated with people, about how parenting was a relationship, not a job, but that the jobs involved in parenting were often tedious and difficult.

This is all especially true during the holiday season*. There’s the feeling we’re all supposed to have (whether we celebrate Christmas or not personally) and then somehow in our culture that’s turned into family emotional work and you’re a bad parent if you don’t create a magical and wonderful season that your kids will have memories of forever.

That’s why I’m teaching this course, to help you deconstruct the relationship and the work of creating an experience, so that you can

  • decide how much of an experience you’re willing to do the work to create,
  • get very clear on exactly what is going to feel like love and magic to your specific people (in the class I’m going to lump your partner and relatives in with your kids as “your people”),
  • make a detailed, actionable plan to do those things to create that magic and love so you can just do the things and not have a bunch of emotions about it,
  • so you can save your emotions for the relationship part of the end of the year and not waste them on the jobs part of the holiday season.

That’s it. Basically I’m going to use concepts from the lean business model, Toyota Production Systems, love languages, attachment styles, core needs, and the Fascinate model (because I’m obsessed with the Fascinate model) to help you get extremely efficient about having an awesome holiday season that makes your people feel really loved and understood. You will be free to do the jobs of holiday parent really efficiently and accurately so you can have the space and time and energy to have the relationship part of the holidays on your own terms.

Bonus: I’m also going to talk about what to do if you yourself have a history of disappointment or trauma at the holidays and how to honor your feelings and need to not be all in about the holidays while still doing the jobs of Awesome Holiday Parent.

Another Bonus: I’m also also going to talk about why your kids, partner, whoever might really not like the holidays (even if they never had an overtly bad experience with them) and how you can honor that and not feel hurt or guilty about it.

(That class is this Thursday, November 18, 9 pm Eastern/8 pm Central/7 pm Mountain/6 pm Pacific on Zoom, recorded.)

But the flip side of this! The flip side of having the relationship and jobs of parenting being separate from each other is that the holiday season is peak time for the people in your life (more often than not these are your parents, siblings, or in-laws) to equate compliance with jobs and attendance at events with how much you love them. Basically, a lot of narcissists think that you have to show up for a long uncomfortable dinner to prove you’re a good daughter and that you love them.

That’s obviously not true. You can love someone an awful lot and really not want to have to sit through a booze-fueled dinner of things your kids can’t eat while your elders pontificate about Twitter trends they don’t understand. But, while you can teach your kids and partner about separating the relationship from the jobs, you are unlikely to be able to change minds and hearts of people who are determined to get you to jump through hoops to comply with their needs.

So I’m doing a second class on how to separate the relationship and jobs IN YOUR OWN MIND so that you can come up with a plan to make them feel like you’re giving them what they want, but without you having to put your whole heart into that compliance and breach your own boundaries.

Basically, how can you make them feel loved without actually jumping through their hoops in a way that would make you feel bad?

I’ll be working with love languages, core needs, attachment styles, the basic steps of dealing with narcissists**, and currencies/physical modalities to help you build a plan for pleasing your complicated people with actions, and leaving your emotions out of it.

Bonus: I’ll talk about understanding how the ties/tugs/guilts/restraints you feel with certain people might feel totally different for your kids, and also how to avoid replicating those bad dynamics for your kids.

(That class is next Monday, November 22, 9 pm Eastern/8 pm Central/7 pm Mountain/6 pm Pacific on Zoom, recorded.)

So this is a two-fer on separating the relationship from the jobs: one half sweet and creative because it’s for your kids and partner, and the other half clever and strategic because it’s for complicated people who would otherwise make you feel bad.

I would charge $129 for this two-part course, but I’m making it a pay-what-you-can (with a minimum of $18 as a good wish to me) so everyone can register. Sign up now:

Buy my product

* I keep calling it “the holiday season” and not Christmas, because the stress and expectations stretch from the day after Halloween through the new year and encompass U.S. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, sometimes Diwali, any of the Scandianvian and Eastern European Christmas-adjacent saint-based holidays (Santa Lucia, Krampusnacht, St. Nicholas Day, etc.), sometimes Ramadan, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Years Eve, New Years Day, and onto Three Kings Day, depending on your own ethnicity and the dominant ethnicities where you live. Not to mention all the school, work, community service, social group, and cultural stuff you’re supposed to be doing.

** I’ve had people be hesitant to treat people as narcissists if they don’t know for sure that they have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But the basic steps to dealing with narcissists are just specifically protecting your own boundaries, so if someone isn’t a narcissist those steps won’t hurt or have any effect on them and they won’t even notice them.

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