Communicating with your child at Christmas.
For many alienated parents, Christmas is a difficult time emotionally and the weeks leading up to it are filled with hope and fear, longing and love. Many of us wonder if we should send a present or card. Then angst over what is the best present and what to write that a) will not seem needy and push our child away and b) not make our child feel guilt or pain. There is also the fear of “what if my child doesn’t read or open the present”, “what if my child tells me to get lost, that they hate me and said they threw the present and letter in the bin”
Here are some tips and suggestions that may help you decide how, what and why to communicate.
Dr Amy Baker (PAS researcher), often discusses that in order to entice our child to turn towards us, we first need to be standing tall within our own selves. In this way we attract our child towards us rather than pulling the rope from a needy place.
For those parents who have some contact:
Write a letter telling your child:
- How proud you are of them and their efforts this past year.
- Talk about one of their interests and share in this interest (even if it’s not something you know much about)
- A memory you shared this past year.
- A tradition you shared/share at Christmas.
- Your own hopes and goals for next year (from yourself).
- Your hopes and goals for your relationship with your child i.e., looking forward to seeing them attend school camp, starting new sport, going to their school formal, watching them graduate Primary or High School, starting first year of Uni or TAFE, or work.
- Tell them you are always here for them and they are always welcome in your home.
For those parents who have no physical contact but do have access via text, email or other digital formats.
- Same as above or if you are not sure of what your child has done or achieved this past year. Then discuss in more general terms of how proud you are of your child.
For those parents who have no contact details and have had no physical contact for a period of time.
- Write letters and keep them together, collate them into a book or journal, or keep them in a computer file that you can show your child in the future. This lets them know that you have never stopped thinking about them and loving them.
In research conducted by Amy Baker and Karen Woodall. Adult alienated children have said that letters and cards meant the most. It let them know their parent did still love them even though they couldn’t show it back. Some adult children said even though they may not have opened or read letters or cards, they knew their parent cared. Not one of these adult children said they wished they have never received communications even though they acted otherwise.
Baker, Amy J and Fines, Paul R ( ) Restoring Family Connections. Helping Targeted Parents and Adult Alienated Children Work Through Conflict, Improve Communication, and Enhance Relationships
Woodall, Karen, online blog. Retrieved November 2021. https://karenwoodall.blog/2018/12/13/letters-home-to-your-childrens-heart/
Woodall, Karen, online blog. Retrieved November 2021. https://karenwoodall.blog/2015/01/11/write-me-a-river-communicating-with-your-alienated-child/