Tips on Kids and Traditions During the Holidays: Raising Mentally

Dr. B here! Talking about kids and the holidays. Last time I talked about expectations and today I want to talk about traditions. When we are trying to raise Mentally STRONG Kids and we are coming into the holidays, we might have family traditions, spiritual traditions, or things around the holidays that you want to instill in your children as important. I just want to share my story. Honestly, it took me until my late forties to really have balanced thinking around my whole life and I look back now at how I raised my kids. My youngest is 21, so I’m officially done, but when I was raising my kids, I really wasn’t teaching them balanced thinking. I practiced a lot of All-or-Nothing thinking, for example: you will obey, or you get things taken away. I have some funny stories about tradition. I was not raised with any spiritual belief system. My grandmother thought Christmas was the absolute best holiday in the world and she began shopping for gifts, in the summer and was done by Thanksgiving and the Christmas tree was up the day after Thanksgiving. Cookies started baking in October and she had a freezer, and I’m getting choked up over this because nobody does this in my family anymore. She had a freezer of cookies and cakes ready for giving gifts to all the neighbors, everybody at her work. Everybody associated with our family got a tray of cookies and cake as a gift at Christmas and so Christmas was always a very happy, festive, giving, social time in our life, and I loved social things. I loved the way my grandmother did Christmas. Then when I was 19 years old, I had a spiritual revelation and I accepted Christ, and I began going to church, I was this all or nothing thinking, right? I went to this extreme saying, “this is Jesus’ birth, and it must be celebrated this way.” And so, when I had my kids in my twenties, I thought, OK, it’s more important that I raise them in the Christian tradition than in my grandma’s tradition. We gave gifts and we tried to keep some of those traditions. From day one I told my kids there was no Santa. Mostly because I didn’t want to tell them that Jesus is real, and Santa is real and then they get to a point where they don’t believe either one, right? I thought I was doing the right thing, but I remember very distinctly, and I don’t know why I’m going to cry over this, but I think my daughter was around seven years old and she was talking about Santa, and I’m said, “baby, I’ve told you, Santa’s not real”, she said mom, “just let me pretend”. I realized I was taking something away from her, her imagination wanted to participate in that. As I’m getting older as a grandma, I have a more realistic balanced thinking of raising kids and I wish I would have just allowed that process to happen naturally. When we talk about Raising Mentally STRONG Kids and the number one thing is relationships are a priority, it’s OK to allow them to experience the tradition. There’s no right answer here, and that’s where I’m going. There’s no right answer of how you do the holidays right, but I challenge you as you’re trying to Raise Mentally STRONG Kids decide what traditions and spiritual things you want to bring into the holidays but make it about relationship and allow your child to enjoy and experience those things in a positive way. So that’s my take on tradition. There’s no right answer. Find your traditions, bring the joy into the holidays. Another thing that I did a lot of is what other people thought I was supposed to do. My grandmother would want me to celebrate it this way. The church wants me to celebrate it this way. Now that my kids are grown and I’m by myself for the holiday, what does the holiday really mean to me? And so, trying and finding my new traditions with my grandchildren and what that looks like. This is an evolving thing, it doesn’t stay the same. Find that joy and remember that relationships are a priority and that you are Mentally STRONG.

Dr. Cristi Bundukamara, Ed.D, PMHNP-BC — A Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and a Doctor of Healthcare Education has experienced unimaginable trials that have caused many feelings such as depression, anxiety, anger, & overwhelming stress.
However, she has developed a new pathway to becoming Mentally Strong & Choosing to be Happy. With purpose, Dr. B has developed the phases that were refined within the Mentally STRONG Method that she created and wants to share with you.

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