Apr 8, 2012
Kids love celebrations and some of them feel left out when their friends celebrate Easter, Christmas, and other religious celebrations. I remember my own childhood in South Africa when I dreaded the end of the year as I would not see my Christian friends for many weeks during the school holidays. My grandfather who was very forward thinking and understood kids often came up with exciting things for us to do. He had a stable with horses and on holidays when I spent time with him I would follow him around with my knee high rubber boots and watch the men in the stables feeding the horses. On Christmas Eve he would tell us kids to go to bed early as Father Christmas would come down the chimney to give us gifts. We totally believed this and when I had children of my own, I did the same thing; setting up a tree and bringing out the presents for under the tree. When I lived in North America, every citizen, from whatever culture, made the usual trips to the shops and became part of the Christmas madness. Christmas in North America is surely something wonderful as you have the real trees and the snow. Here are some things children of all cultures can participate in at Easter and other religious holidays.
• Have a family day and have a barbecue where you can invite all the friends and family with kids who can spend the day with you. The children will have baking utensils and dough and can make the dessert. The parents will bring their own cookie cutters and bake pans and the host will give over the kitchen to them. The adults will prepare the meat for the barbecue and oversee the baking. This can be a lot of fun for kids.
• You can also make special arrangements for the day to go to Robben Island where the kids will be on a ferry and also learn the history of Mandela’s imprisonment. They will have fun as well as learn something about the former President of the country. The cell Mandela stayed in and the isolation of the island and its history will make them think. Always try to have a learning experience. This might also be a little costly, but it will be well worth it. For those living outside of South Africa, there are also zoos and museums and skating rinks.
• A lesson in humanity – it is a good time for it – is also something you can add. Expose your kids to other cultures and faiths. This will help them in life if they know a little about what other people believe. It will make them more respectful and less self righteous. Kids are kids; it does not matter whether they have Christmas dolls and toys. You don’t want them to feel left out when other kids are celebrating. Just give them something too to look forward to.
We all know someone – or maybe in our own family – where the son is married and has a wife and his mother still lays out his clothes in the morning and still tells him which tie is better to wear, what he should and should not eat and participate in, and still make herself the most important man in his life. His mother is assertive and says openly that nothing has changed and that her son still takes her advice. As a newly married wife you stand idly by out of respect and let her have the kudos, but you are bristling inside. Someone has to tell this mother – your mother-in-law what her position is now. She can be included in a discussion if you both agree, but no longer make the decisions. How does one do this when the mother-in-law is not mean and you like her, but don’t know how to correct the situation without hurting her feelings? Perhaps what is to be clarified and explained has to be done slowly over time and not in one fell swoop.
• First, the duty to tell his mother that things have changed now should come from the son. He is a grown man now and should tell his mother that she is still important in his life but that he has a wife now and she will take care of him. The mother might be a little upset at first, but she must be told, and the son must take responsibility and not leave this to his wife to sort out. Things will take a turn downwards and slowly deteriorate if it is not properly handled. This is an important aspect for a healthy relationship.
• You and your husband should discuss having a special day with his mom when you can all have dinner or lunch together and she does not feel left out. Make her feel part of the family and include her in some of your things.
• Have lunch with her on your own also where you can discuss things that are bothering her and that you can set straight and resolve. It is not easy for a mother to let go and doing it slowly and gently will go a long way to having a good friendship with her. Maybe the two of you can even go to a movie or exchange recipes. Find some common ground that you will both enjoy.
• Once a month you might feel inclined to pick up some groceries for her. There are good and bad ways to curry favor with a mother-in-law. Take the good route; it will help in forging a relationship with your mother-in-law. You know that you have the last name, the man, and his love and respect. He will care for you more when he sees that both the women in his life are happy. Mothers-in-law are just mothers who wrongly fear that they will lose their sons. Make her feel that that is not so.