Yes, the holidays are meant to be the most wonderful time of the year. Whether you are tucking presents under the tree, enjoying the soft glow of a menorah, or baking traditional cookies with your little one, it's hard for even the Scrooge-iest of us to deny the presence of holiday cheer. But the same can't always be said for get-togethers with extended family. Yes, they are often a lovable bunch, but it's inevitable that even the sanest group has a few black sheep. But is it true that the holidays are dangerous because of all the relatives around?
It sounds a bit dramatic, right? But if you think about tangoing with relatives over your kid's food allergies, begging your great uncle so-and-so to please stop kissing the baby on the mouth, and explaining to your well-meaning aunt that your toddler simply doesn't like hugs, then you will feel exhausted by the mere idea of a get-together.
Well, that's why there's this handy list of five common situations you might run into with family who needs a bit of extra help navigating life with your child. Of course, you can always resort to "please, shove off" if necessary. Because adding "please" helps to soften the potential blow — or so I hear. 'Tis the season!
No, Not Even A "Little Bit" Of Wheat
It's hard enough to explain allergies to school faculty and every parent whose child is having a birthday party. But relatives have a way of bringing a new level of let-me-break-this-down-for-you to a situation. Experts say educating relatives is the most important step, although it may take a bit of effort. According to Allergic Living, you should teach relatives about the many different names your kid's allergen can have (e.g. bulgur, farina, and spelt all have wheat), bring food to get-togethers to avoid cross contamination, and "remember that no one wants to harm your child; stay positive, take a deep breath."
Back Off, Grandma
It's not uncommon for family members to ask your child for hugs or even go in for the real thing without asking. But if your child is uncomfortable, then it's OK for your them to express that and, in fact, you should encourage them to do so.
"Modeling consent for children requires pushing back on adultist logics, which include believing that adults are unquestionable authority figures and the gatekeepers of information children are not yet ready to understand," Jett Bachman, a youth educator at New York-based Day One, an organization that serves as a resource on dating abuse and domestic violence among youth, tells Romper. If adult relatives push back, then stand firm in your decision to let your child choose how they give affection. You might also suggest a handshake or high-five in lieu of more affectionate gestures, writer Katia Hetter noted in a story for CNN.
Because Adults Slobber, Too
For the most part, relatives just want to show your child a little love, so it's tough to say, "Ummm ... gross." But the truth is, the holiday season is not only rampant with cheer, but all the germs. And according to Parents magazine, a baby's underdeveloped immune system makes it easy to pass the common cold, flu, and even the herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) virus, which can be life threatening. So, don't let guilt get in the way of telling people to please wash their hands before holding your baby, and definitely ask them to avoid kissing your baby on the mouth or near the eye area.
When Big Kids Just Don't Get It
Big kids are often completely unaware of the fact that a baby or small child can't do the same things as them, so you might need to help them understand. According to Parents magazine, it's important to "confront aggressive behavior on the spot" by pulling the child aside and explaining why their actions might hurt your toddler or small child. When it comes to your infant, invite big kids to sit next to you or get down on the floor with them to show to guide them toward gentle activities.
F*ck Off, Uncle John
Sometimes adult relatives need to be reminded that certain language stays at the big kids' table. Sure, parents definitely have different opinions on the "to swear or not to swear" conversation — and that's totally fine. But if you stand on the side of not cursing in front of your kids, then a situation may arise where you have to address it with extended family. PopSugar noted that you should "acknowledge that you realize they are an adult and aren't used to watching their language, but you would appreciate them remembering to keep their commentary PG-rated around your child."
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