Ah, the blessings of family get-togethers!
And the challenges of families getting together…
Handling Family During Holidays
Do you have a relative who you love and yet…they just cannot manage themselves through an entire holiday dinner without getting obnoxious about some topic or the other? The joys and frustrations of family during the holidays.
Unfortunately for homeschooled children and teens, these relatives can be trying! After all, many homeschoolers are being trained to have good manners, so they would not talk in rude or obnoxious ways at family gatherings. SO, what do you do to help your kids handle these situations in a gracious manner?
Here are a few tips I share with my clients (I work as a counselor) or that I have learned the hard way myself:
1) Discuss etiquette with the kids ahead of time.
If they are young, rehearse table manners, taking turns, and quiet voices. If they are older, empower them to impress the family with their chivalrous behavior (thus providing a good advertisement for homeschooling.)
One powerful way to help kids with etiquette is to give them concrete social skills that they can utilize at any time necessary. We 7Sisters have taught our kids 10 special skills that they will need throughout life (especially at large family get togethers) and share them in our Social Skills for Kids guide. Download it. You’ll be glad you did.
Also, check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode on Holiday Social Skills.
2) Decide ahead of time what will be the “off-limits” topics of conversation.
You can discuss this with the extended family or just your immediate family. Then, if the conversation steers off-limits, you already know to jump in with, “Let’s get back to that another day… but I’d LOVE to hear about your trip to Bothaville.” (Get them talking about themselves- usually a great distraction.)
3) Decide ahead of time that if it doesn’t have eternal value, let it go.
Aunt Sally Sue criticizes the gravy lumps, Grandma Jones criticizes your haircut, Uncle Bob makes fun of homeschooling… Take a breath. You DON’T have to correct anyone’s bad manners. This can be a difficult one for teens (and adults). Listen to this episode of Homeschool Highschool Podcast for ideas to help.
4) Keep activities at hand.
Always a good idea for children or adults. Humans at loose ends are primed for irritating behavior. (Try crafts, games, hikes, or musical instruments.)
5) Coach yourself on good role modeling.
Keep your shoulders back, chin up just a tad, smile… These are non-verbals that tell everyone that you are calm and collected. It helps set the tone for the day. Laugh often, encourage and compliment others as often as is honest. Pray.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are times of blessing and joy; of recalibrating and prayer. If you’d like a little encouragement in your prayer life, check out our Prayer Journals (prayer prompts and activities) and FREE Genesis 1 Study Guide and Carry Each Other’s Burdens (a guide on things that are truly helpful when a friend is in crisis).
Take a deep breath, you and your homeschoolers can do this! In the meantime, keep calm and homeschool on! While you are at it, take a look at all the ideas for homeschooling through the holidays in this post.
BTW- Keep some literature going at the holidays, if possible. Here are some ideas for handling literature with your homeschool high schoolers.
Want some more encouragement? Here is Sabrina’s vlog on Undirected Socialization!
Handling Family During Holidays