Sunday, November 15, 2015

Holiday Depression

The holiday season can be filled with parties and activities to celebrate with family and friends. For others it can be a time of sadness, loneliness and anxiety about an uncertain future and economy. During our lifetime we have all experienced melancholy feelings during the holidays with the loss of family members, divorce, arguments and the stress of over extending your budget. Holiday depression can evolve from the stress and disappointment of unrealistic expectations that were envisioned.
Holiday stress
One in ten American adults have depression that is genetically based and treated with medication. Sadness is a deep personal feeling. What makes one person sad won’t affect another person. Holiday sadness can be attributed to built-up expectations, disappointments from previous holidays, stress or fatigue from preparations, and financial worries. Headaches, excessive drinking, overeating and insomnia are some triggers to expound holiday stress. This can happen to seniors, men, women, and the sullen teenager.
Holiday preparations
In preparation for the holidays define your personal limits and stick to them. Decide what activities you would like to participate in, entertain in the home, visit relatives or travel during the holiday. Have a family meeting and discuss the options available to you. There is no one correct way to celebrate the season.
There are many options to relieve the stress and scale back the celebration. Decorate your home with the favorite traditional items or ones that hold the most memories for your family. Then create a budget and determine what you can spend for each person on your list and make no exceptions that would put you over your limit. Planning your holiday meal should be put in your expenses also.
If your family complains about the downsizing of the holiday explore the opportunities in helping others. There are several ideas that you and your family could choose from such as volunteering at the food bank, buying a gift for the Angel tree, or visiting seniors at nursing homes. Your family could attend church services and musical concerts that can replenish the holiday spirit when you feel overwhelmed. Making time to take care of yourself is also a gift because you will then have the energy to do for others. Determine what positive changes can be made this year so that you and your family are blessed with a happy and healthy holiday.   

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Blending Families

Research has found that it takes at least four years for a stepfamily to blend and longer if the children are older.  There is no magic time table for success but children will adjust better to a blended family if there are positive attitudes about the adjustments everyone is experiencing.  Families won’t bond immediately and you will have to determine ways to merge different routines, rules and personalities.   

Steps to blending 

It is normal for children to be unsure about their relationship with a new step-parent.  When building relationships try to start with just eating as a family, watch a program together, walk the family pet or attend an activity together.  Try to take it slow and learn the interest and personalities of the children.  Blending families can also be an introduction of new cultures, religions, and hobbies.  Communicating those differences can also help the family bond as they learn more about each other.  

We can’t assume that over time, children will naturally adjust to their new roles and relationships that arise when families are blended.  A new parent figure can increase stress in young people because their relationships tend to be more conflict ridden.  Problems also arise when teens feel they have to compete for parental attention. Social Science research reports that boys living with half or step-siblings have the most difficulty adjusting to the blended family.  Teenagers in families with different biological parents have been reported to have lower grades and more behavior problems than other adolescents.  These problems may not improve over time.  

Work together

The biological parents must work together and co-parent the children as they strive to blend the new family systems. If the discord in your blended family escalates then seek insight from a counselor or your church pastor on ways to resolve the conflict. Set a time to have family meetings to discuss concerns and options available to resolve them. This will help the children realize that a blended family can also give them more people in their lives that care about them.