Holidays are such a fun and memorable time for families to participate in different traditions, rituals, events, and/or activities. Going to a pumpkin patch, sleigh rides, baking, seeing Santa, Easter egg hunting, and overall spending time with family and friends. Who doesn’t love the holidays? As a prior case manager for youth in foster care, the time from October to January seemed to be some of the hardest for families and children navigating the foster care, guardianship, and adoption world. Children and youth would be thriving, then out of nowhere, would very much struggle with daily events that prior to this time frame were generally positive experiences. Through plenty of conversations with team members, it is noted that kids within foster care, guardianship, and adoption greatly struggle with time around the holidays. Holidays can trigger unresolved grief, emotions, and memories the child may have experienced with birth family. Even though they are happy where they are at with their guardianship or adoptive family, it also makes them wonder if their birth family is thinking of them on special days, celebrations, and occasions. Not only are holidays difficult, but celebrations can also be triggering for some children and families. These celebrations can include birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.
While holidays and celebrations can be more difficult for children and families, this holiday season may look even more different than due to COVID, which can create additional stress and lack of support. Families may be having to change normal holiday routines and traditions this year, which can create additional stressors in an already difficult season.
Below are some ways to help children through holidays and celebrations.
- Ask your child what special traditions or rituals they participated in with their birth family throughout the holidays. Once you and your child have that conversation, you can begin implementing those traditions and rituals into your family holidays. A fun idea is to create a craft or bake a treat in remembrance of their birth family. This can occur on their birth parents birthdays or Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
- Keep schedules and routines consistent, for the most part. For many children, having a routine and schedule helps them to know what to expect next. Schedules and routines can change during the holidays and different celebrations due to excitement, but for children who have been adopted or in guardianship, those schedules and routines can make them feel in control.
- While it may be difficult to not take the behavior or reaction to a certain holiday or celebration personally, it is important to remember the negative behavior or reaction is generally stemming from their grief with their past. Validate their emotions and feelings leading up to a certain holiday or celebration and let them know it is normal to have the feelings they are experiencing.
This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Jaclyn Stroehl, LBSW