Tag Archive | families

Five Ways to Keep Family Peace During the Holidays

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Family in Confloct

Let’s face it, the holidays bring relatives to the table, along with all their opinions and other baggage. No matter how delicious the meal, togetherness often brings a cornucopia of disagreements. Here are five suggestions to keep peace in the family. I recognize that some families can’t work together at all due to some members who have major issues. This blog may help keep the peace, but it is less likely to work with  families that are totally out of control. I know, because I experienced that in my own childhood.

  1. Before the guests arrive, make a list of safe topics to discuss. Don’t tell the guests. Be ready to change the subject if the conversation begins to get out of hand.
  2. Try to seat those who might disagree on certain subjects at opposite ends of the table.
  3. Unless everyone basically agrees on political issues, set a no politics rule. Even if they agree on most issues, a disagreement can still occur. Be ready to change the subject, if necessary.
  4. If sparks start to fly, use this sentence to cool the emotions. “When you _______, I feel ____, because _________. After you say that, be quiet.
  5. If things still start to get out of hand, say something along this line, “I don’t completely agree, but I can see your point. Then you go to the kitchen and sweeten everyone’s disposition with dessert.
  6. I would love for you to share your ideas to help readers keep family peace during the holidays.

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Don’t Be a Shame Sponge

Don't let your self feel like this poor sponge.

Don’t let yourself feel like this poor sponge.

Did you experience physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse as a child? If so, you may feel a deep shame that makes it hard for you to believe you are as worthy as other people. It may even make it difficult for you to feel loved. Abuse is a direct attack on a person’s dignity. You had no way of knowing that, so you may have become a “shame sponge.” Did you soak up the dirt and shame that belongs to the abuser? If the person who hurt you was a family member, you may have added shame upon shame. After all, the family member who abused you may also be the one who took care of you. You needed the abuser in order to live. It created a confusing double bind. You couldn’t see the abuser as bad, so you saw yourself as bad. Even if the abuser was not a family member, the loss of dignity may have caused you to feel shame. Of course, there were other strong emotions, too. We will discuss those on another post.

The shameful feelings come from the lies planted in your mind and spirit, whether intentionally or unintentionally, by the abuser. Truthfully, no one is perfect, but you are not worse than others simply because of abuse. Even if you know that, you may not feel it. The perpetrator, however, should feel shame for hurting you, an innocent child. Changing the thought patterns and feelings developed in childhood requires some soul-searching work. If you haven’t received counseling, I recommend it. You can also help yourself by changing the messages you give yourself. Say, “Self, you are just as valuable and worthy as everyone else. The person who hurt you is the one who deserves the shame.” Telling yourself one time is not enough. You need to do it every time those old feelings stir your soul. It may feel like hard work, but it is worth it.

I am a Christian. I believe shame came into the world through Adam and Eve. They disobeyed God and hid in the garden to hide the shame they felt because they had no clothes. Fig leaves didn’t cover their shame. They needed more to cover their naked bodies. God confronted them and out of love covered them with animal skins. With the law of Moses, God began the practice of sacrificing lambs and other animals for the forgiveness of sins. The Bible says, “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed by blood, for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22 NIV) Finally, Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God came to earth as a baby. He showed people how to live, and He died for our sins. He took our shame. Anyone who accepts the gift of His sacrifice and follows Him will have eternal life in heaven. Even it you don’t believe in God, the shame you felt and may still feel doesn’t from the abuse belongs to the one who abused you, not you.

Help for Grieving Children

When there is a loss in the family, whether due to divorce or death of a family member, children tend to feel like it is their fault. Professionsals call this belief system magical thinking. In the movie, Home Alone, Kevin wished his parents would disappear. Then he woke up the next morning and found them gone. He believed his impulsive wish had come true. He thought his momentary desire caused the permanent loss of his entire family. Although he found resourceful ways to fight the bungling thieves, Kevin believed he was alone in the world and tried to make the best of it. When his family returned, he leaped into their arms with joy. That example shows how children process loss. They need to know it is not their fault that there was a change in their family. The adults in their lives must help them know the loss is not their fault, but in a way they can understand. On this blog we will spend some time examining ways to help grieving children. We will also discuss things parents and churches can do to help raise emotionally and spiritually healthy families. I invite you to share ideas of your own and to ask questions about family issues. We can work together with God to build a better family, whcih helps to build a better world.