How to Cope When Your Family’s Holiday Plans Don’t Include You
By Susan Hoffman
My daughter has become a self-centered monster. She thinks nothing of cutting me off from my 8-year-old grandson during the holidays so they can go on a trip. She doesn’t care whether I’m alone and how her cruel behavior affects me.
I feel that no one cares about how emotionally devastating it is grandparents when their own children alienate them. I don’t know how much more I can take.
My mother and grandmother had their share of differences, but that never got in the way of holiday celebrations because my mom understood the importance of family gatherings.
What’s going on? How can I fix my daughter?
— Emotionally Abused Grandma
I’m afraid you are right about the lack of concern for your feelings. Grandparents’ feelings are not always a priority. Grandparents sometimes think that pleading their case to parents will make a difference, but parents don’t want to hear it. They are too focused on themselves, which has much to do with the times we live in and the “me” generation.
The holidays can be a tough time, anyway. For many nuclear families, the holidays have taken on a new meaning, which doesn’t always include extended family members. It’s not uncommon for parents to book ski or tropical vacations during school breaks, even though they overlap with a traditional holiday. Consequently, grandparents often get left in the dust.
It’s important to develop some coping strategies to help relieve your distress, such as getting control of your emotions and taking steps to detach yourself. Attaching ourselves to one person or thing or even to traditions can render us powerless.
You can’t fix your daughter or anyone else, only yourself. You can begin by acknowledging that this is who your daughter is, and then start working on your own coping skills. Give yourself permission to feel sad, but don’t let it overtake your life.
Holiday traditions can be observed on any day. You may or may not have the pleasure of seeing your grandson during the holidays. As lousy as that is, don’t let it consume you.
Holidays are about giving. So why not adopt a family in need and spread your love and generosity to people who appreciate it?
Susan Hoffman is the author of A Precious Bond and the director of AFGGC, which produced A Precious Bond, the first documentary film about unreasonably denied grandparent visitation. Visit apreciousbond.com for more information or to order the film or book.