Holidays are all about expectations, usually unrealistic ones. It is so easy to set oneself up for disappointment. Our teens deal with this all the time. Great expectations for the first date, the first kiss, the first dance etc, etc. Sometimes that first kiss is unforgettable, but mostly it's not. Usually it is misplaced, sloppy, maybe even painful if one party has a mouthful of metal. Holidays can be like that too for parents. Maybe it has been a tough fall, money stress, job stress, family stress and teen stress. All you want for this holiday time is a little respite from the fray, and here is how you are going to get it!
For all your list makers, this will be fun, if you are like me it will feel like work, but I thing the payoff will be enormous.
List 1: Write down all the fantasy expectations for this holiday. Even the ones that seem the most outrageous and ridiculous like "my 16 yr old will shut off his phone while we all cuddle in front of the fire watching a sweet movie.
List 2: Now rewrite each of your fantasy expectations with the more realistic, grounded, how this will really play out. For example, maybe the first will play out more like this. We will all watch the movie and my teen will be texting the whole time which will drive me crazy cause that is rude and he is still not participating in this family time.
OK so now is the Pollyanna time. Once you can put the fantasy to bed, you won't be disappointed when it doesn't happen. Now you can look at what is happening, which is your teen is in the same room with the family. For now that is probably good enough. You can bring them to the table, but you can't make them eat. Believe it or not, though you might feel a little gypped, your teen may feel all cuddly and warm having two of his favorite things happening simultaneously, being with family and being with friends.
You see holidays as time for family, food and Kodak moments. Your teen sees holidays as time for friends, fun, and unlimited hours of sleep. There is a huge disconnect here between what you want and what your teen wants. You might have a conversation like this: " Yea vacation!!! So I get you just want time to veg, sleep and see your friends. Its been a busy fall and I know it will feel great not to have any schedule. I'd love to find a little time for us to hang as a family, maybe a dinner out or watch a movie together. Can we find a time to do that together? Acknowledging to your teen that this is a choice not a command show a respectful, "I know your time is important".
Fantasies are important. They get us through the tough times, and give us something to look forward to, even if they are unrealistic. But reality, often paling in light of what we really wanted, is good too, just different.