HOW TO HAVE A GREAT TIME AT FAMILY GATHERINGS WHILE KEEPING YOUR SANITY INTACT

Thank you once again HealthToday Malaysia for the interview for Jan 2022 issue.
How to have a great time at CNY family gatherings while keeping your sanity intact.

CHAPTER 1

HOW TO ANSWER RUDE AND INTRUSIVE QUESTIONS WITHOUT CAUSING A CIVIL WAR WITHIN THE FAMILY

“Wah, you have put on so much weight since we last met! Eating a lot lately?”

Thanks for noticing! It’s because I am much happier now aday.

“Why aren’t you married yet? You’re not getting any younger, you know!”

I am still single and happily so, thank you for asking!

“You should wear your hair nicer, get more new clothes, and lose weight—be more like your pretty Second Cousin. Then you will be more popular and get a partner more easily!”

Thank you for your advice. I’m fine. I like to be authentic. As long as I am happy, I am okay with how I look.

“Your mother told me you broke up with Josh. That’s so sad. What did you do to drive him away?”

We were happy to go our separate way, because we both have different life goals.

“Now that you’re married, when are you going to have kids? Your parents aren’t getting younger, they must surely be eager to be grandparents!”

We are not ready to have kids yet, and we are quite happy about it, thank you.

“I hear from Fifth Aunty that your partner is doing something that the rest of the family disapproves of. You really should do something about that!”

We are all adults. It is better to not mind someone else’s business.

“You’re still in your same job? Third Cousin just got a new job at this bank, and she bought her parents a new condo! When are you going to make enough to get your parents nice things?”

I am so happy for her! I make my parents happy by spending quality time with them—that is my way of showing my love to them.

CHAPTER 2

HOW TO HELP YOUR RELUCTANT KID TO HAVE A GOOD TIME AT FAMILY GATHERINGS

TIP 1: EVALUATE THE SITUATION

If an environment of a family gathering is really toxic (such as when you foresee vulgarity, angry arguments, and even altercations breaking out), I’d suggest that opting out of such gathering altogether.

Keep an eye on your child. If they appear extremely stressed out or are unable to regulate their mood or behavior, it’s best to skip or make a polite excuse to leave early.

Barring aside such conditions, I usually recommend people to attend family gatherings. It’s a fun and amazing opportunity for everyone to grow emotionally through social interactions with other members of the family.

TIP 2: LET YOUR CHILD AND RELATIVES KNOW OF YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Dr Steven Dickstein, a child and adolescent psychiatrist said that a child with behavior difficulties at school, for example, is going to have them at grandma’s house, so make sure that your expectations of them are realistic.

Hence, have a conversation before leaving your house about how you expect your child to behave, and don’t shy away from specifics. Knowing what the rules are at someone else’s house is always helpful for your child.

It’s just as important to let your relatives and friends know what to expect of your child. Also, let them know that it’s not up to them to criticize or try to fix your child.

TIP 3: PLAN AHEAD

You know your children well, so take a few minutes at least a week before the event to ask yourself:

What will likely make my children anxious or upset?

How might they would end up acting immaturely, or in a way they might regret?

Your plan could be as simple as trying to avoid engaging family members that can upset your child, change the topic when conversations move in a direction that can stress your child, or just take your child out for a walk or drive to calm them down.

Just pick a few manageable objectives to stick to for a particular gathering, and save your other ideas for the future.

TIP 4: TURN FAMILY GATHERINGS INTO A TEACHABLE MOMENT

Let your child know that sometimes, they have to deal with people they don’t like, but you will help them work through the experience.

Help your child understand being with their extended family is temporary; they’ll be back to their regular life soon.

Family gatherings let us to take a break from work and school, and focus on people that make our lives meaningful. They allow us to create positive memories and nurture rich relationships that will stay with us throughout our lives. We shouldn’t deprive our child of the same opportunities.

In addition to providing professional counselling, Faith Foo is also an author of motivational books for both adults and children. She weaves her advice through relatable anecdotes, parallels to real life, and metaphors as well as allegories both amusing and poignant. Scan the QR code or visit www.faithfoocounseling. com to find out more.