Trees! Lights! Parties! Presents! Friends! Family! Concerts! Cookies! Candy! How can you help your child navigate all of the overstimulation they are experiencing during this time of year?
The holiday season is full of fun and exciting sights, sounds, smells, treats, and activities. Mike and Kristin have asked their good friend, Jenn Hook, to join us today as they discuss some ways parents can handle overstimulation with their kids during the holiday season. Listen in now for Part 2 of 4 in our “Holiday Survival Tips and Tricks Series.”
You’ve probably been down this road before: your child suffers from extreme depression, hurts others, or makes decisions that are against everything your family holds true. It causes unimaginable grief. How do you handle the extreme emotions you feel, while making sure your children are taken care of?
I stand in my kitchen, early on a Monday morning, coffee in hand, feeling sad. The sun has begun making its ascent over the tops of the trees, spreading tiny rays of light across our yard. The dew-soaked blades of grass shimmer in the fresh morning light. In the past, I’d step outside, breath in deep, and take in the new day. Now, I feel restriction when I so much as inhale normal.
As parents, we want the best for our children. Our hearts break when their’s break, our joy soars when theirs soar. When things fall apart, we do our best to fix it. But maybe we’re not supposed to be in control of every emotion they experience.
“What your mom needs to remember is that she isn’t in control of your emotions.” The counselor was looking right at my daughter but I knew she was talking to me. We had just had a very emotional counseling session. My daughter was asked to list her stressors. I had known for a long time that I was the cause of some of her stress and truthfully I was relieved to see my name at the very bottom of a long and honest list. Watching my daughter make the list was a mixture of sadness, pride and sheer relief.
It’s the worst fear of any parent- losing a child. For our guest, Denise, her worst fear became a reality 2 years ago when her son Ian took his own life. In the wake of this tragedy she is learning how to move forward, and live life, in-spite of deep loss.
Christmas is supposed to be the happiest season of the year. Filled with family gatherings, good food, friends, gifts, shiny decorations and hallmark memories to last a lifetime. No one expects the season to turn tragic. That’s exactly what happened to Jim and Denise Rose and their two daughter’s on December 24th, 2013.
It’s one of the hardest journeys that human beings embark on: parenting. With all of the ups and downs, trials and defeats, challenges and often uphill climbs, how do you find hope? Where does the strength come from to face one more day? One word…confession!
Our son has a mental illness. His brain was damaged by alcohol before he was born. After his birth he suffered trauma. That exposure to trauma changed the way his brain functions. My son currently is unable to live at home. Not every parent’s experience will be the same as mine. It is my hope that through sharing my story, other parents who are feeling this pain will feel less alone.
Confession: my daughter wants to die!
My daughter is sensitive, quiet, caring and loving. She takes everything to heart. She is wildly creative and a little eccentric. She also struggles with depression. We have always suspected this about her.
She rarely talks about how she’s feeling but occasionally alludes to feeling stupid, dumb, worthless and unwanted. When she was in first grade she said she wished she had never been born.
Over the years she has allowed us small glimpses into her soul. She has shared tidbits of her true feelings but she has always been guarded. I have prayed desperately for her to find her own voice. I was shocked when, last Christmas as we wrapped presents, she did.
We were sprawled out on the family room floor, sharing wrapping paper, tape and the only pair of scissors we could find in the entire house. She carefully placed the last piece of tape on her perfectly wrapped gift and whispered, “Mommy, can I tell you something?”As tears filled her eyes she spoke truthfully about the pain that plagues her, the memories that haunt her and her plan to die.
For years my baby has been hiding each perceived failure in her heart. She has tucked guilt away into the back of her mind. She has let fear fill her soul. She hopes for peace but can feel nothing but dread. She lays awake at night and thinks, maybe death would bring relief. She lays in the dark wrestling through the reality of following through with her plan.
She asks herself, “Will death bring peace?” She stares at the darkness of her ceiling as depression closes in, swallowing her last glimmer of hope.
I lay awake at night too.
I strain my ears to hear movement. I mentally check through the safety plan. I drift off only to be jolted awake by a silent nothing. I creep to her room and slip under her covers just as I did when she was a baby. I lace my fingers with hers and she presses her forehead to mine. I promise I won’t let her face these demons alone any more.
While we wait together in the dark for the first light and the hope of a new day, we now pray for the true peace that only comes from the Lord…
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” -Romans 8:26
We are not out of the woods yet. Sadness creeps in. Insecurity quietly tries to steal her joy. Shame knocks at the door of her heart. Fear whispers in the darkness.
With each word of truth spoken, the lies are losing their grip on my daughter’s soul. With each shared burden, my daughter’s shoulders seem lighter. The guilt is losing it’s weightiness and the power of the fear is dwindling. Yesterday, I heard her laugh. Really laugh. Through all this darkness, it was a sound of hope and freedom.