Readers’ Christmas Commentary This story is partly related to the current parent who’s going through a split-up, and concerned about the implications for their five-year-old child, over the Christmas holidays (November 16):
“My spouse and I are fortunately together, but a dozen years ago we faced an awkward holiday dynamic after my mother died and my father remarried. We’d previously spent the holidays with my parents.
“My cautionary tale from back then might be relevant to your readers. I’m an only child. My spouse and I are immigrants to Canada. I have no other family within hundreds of miles.
“My spouse’s entire family lives on the other side of the world, too far/expensive for us to visit them in the time available during December holidays.
“My step-mother owned a modest house, too small to accommodate her family and us. Because of dynamics on their end, we weren’t invited to their event.
“For this reason, I contacted every family I could think of within reasonable driving distance of our home in Ontario who had a child of a similar age/interests to our own. I asked if they might be available for an informal get-together during the holiday season.
“Our child was then just nine years old. I contacted at least ten households of friends. Sadly, every single family had already developed longstanding routines.
“I don’t think this was personal, as we were all happy to connect at other times of the year. But the holidays are very highly choreographed for most people.
“Their own family dynamics may be complicated. Even longstanding friends may not be able to help, despite the best of intentions.
“There are a lot of households in Canada, especially those comprised of immigrants like us, that don’t have extended families who can easily fill in the gap.
“I’d say to your letter-writer, the parent of a five-year-old, if another family might not be available, don’t take it personally. This situation may also be complicated by the pandemic.
“A child who’s not yet vaccinated may potentially make visits with other households problematic. The pandemic may also complicate some other special events in which a parent and child could ordinarily participate.
“But surely there are other ways to make the occasion memorable.”
Ellie - There are usually other single parents and kids, and family groups having fun on sleds/toboggans, on the hills in neighbourhood parks.
Enjoy the atmosphere and, through a smile and hello, show openness to meeting other parents and children seeking playmates.
FEEDBACK Regarding the twin 14-year-old boys who harshly blame their mother for things they dislike (November 18):
Reader – “No one, including teenagers, has the right to attack someone rudely.
“Yes, the mother must realize that her sons are experiencing what every teenager experiences plus their twin-ness. But they must learn to treat everyone with respect/courtesy.”
Ellie - The boys’ misbehaviour’s not excused by me. I suggested delivering life lessons: e.g. “You don’t like your lunches? Make your own. “
Some readers stressed that both parents set jointly-agreed boundaries... and I agree. Taking away their phones for some days/week was recommended. However, phones can be essential regarding pick-up times or needs/routines keeping kids safe.
But there are unnecessary privileges parents can dismiss for a while. Some readers suggested disallowing digital games, and/or taking away allowances in response to the teens’ unacceptable behaviour.
I still also believe that the mom’s strength/wisdom is needed to probe what’s winding them up.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the husband who’s weighing his career dreams vs. his family’s stability, if he accepts a job an ocean away (November 18?)
“My stepson was the same age as the letter-writer when he was offered a "dream job" in London, UK. He also has a wife and two children although the couple’s daughters are older.
“The whole family embraced the opportunity. They’ve travelled extensively to Europe plus the UK, explored many places, learned greatly from the excellent school system and grown in knowledge and experience.
“It’s a great opportunity for this family to "seize the day" with a positive attitude. His wife, with a background in health care, could gain valued international experience, for any career goals. It’d demonstrate that she’s flexible, wanting to learn and experience new things.
“I look at my stepson and daughter-in-law and watch their marriage grow and strengthen and it has given their daughters opportunities not available in Canada.”
Tip of the day:
Show your friendly openness to other parents with young children whom you meet during traditional Christmas activities outdoors.