It’s all go go go for Christmas and it’s so lovely to see all the trees going up (and our baubles arriving or being popped up for a third year!!) but I wanted to take a moment to have a little chat about Christmas and adoption.
We were talking at work about how Christmas has changed once we have little ones (birth or adopted) and our expectations to relive the magic of Christmas from our youth, or create a Christmas that we wished we had. This got us thinking about how much of the Christmas festivities we want for our own need and excitement and how much of it all the children actually want.
Unfortunately for adopted children Christmas isn’t always that exciting time of year. Abuse may have happened more around that time of year due to family stresses or relatives visiting. Domestic violence could have increased. Family Christmas dinners may not have looked anything like we expect, and sadly some children may not have been visited by Father Christmas. Our children may have also just arrived at their forever home feeling overwhelmed and lost. All that they see around them is Christmas. Then every year when they see those lights and the tree this could trigger feelings of sadness and being unsettled.
It is a reality that some of our children will dread Christmas. It may also be a time of year that they associate with being removed from their family.
There are many many reasons why adopted children may fear / dread Christmas and we must take time to empathise with them and not expect them to be grateful for everything we are doing. Is it your need or theirs?
Adjusting to a much quieter Christmas may leave you feeling really sad, but you might have to do this in order to help regulate your little one and ensure you get through the day. It will be a much better day if everyone is regulated and happy.
Too many presents / seeing lots of family might be overwhelming. Not to mention the sensory overload of lights, trees, seeing multiple father Christmas’ on the lead up to the big day.
The excitement can become so overwhelming that they don’t know what to do with how their are feeling or they may try and sabotage Christmas because they don’t feel they deserve such lovely things.
I always find a letter / email works well with friends & family just giving a little update and then outline what you expect from Christmas. This means everyone has had the same information, you have said what you need to and hopefully they will respect this (like laying down the rules regarding personal space, for example when relatives expect a kiss when they say hello / goodbye and your child not wanting to do this).
Don’t forget our children may not understand why they can suddenly see family now, when a week ago it was unsafe to because of Covid. I spoke to Cub and told him we are seeing his cousins and he panicked and said ‘we can’t mummy Covid’ so this will be another pressure or worry this year.
Seeing friends or family over Christmas this year may feel overwhelming too, after being quite isolated for nearly a year now.
Stay strong and go with what your child can cope with. We don’t all get it right first time and it’s trial and error working out triggers and what may upset them; but talk to them about your plans for Christmas, get them involved with decorations and ideas for what they would like to do and follow their lead.
Another word of warning is for the pressure you put on yourself. You don’t have to be the ‘Instagram perfect’ parent. You just have to be there and having the perfect Christmas will be listening to your child and seeing what makes it perfect for them. You don’t have to see 10 Santa’s, have the biggest tree and do all the crafts. Trust me I tried, I burnt out and in the end he didn’t care, he just wanted to rip all the presents open and then was too overwhelmed to play with any of it.
It will all take some adjustment and new family routines and traditions will be made in time, just take it easy and enjoy the little things.
I would love to know what you thought of this latest blog. Please leave me a comment below x