Holidays are supposed to be a time where relatives gather together to celebrate. Are you excited to see your relatives? Or, are you already bracing for what they might say? Do you have nosy or rude relatives who disagree with your choices? Let’s talk about how you can set up boundaries with your relatives at the holidays.
We are supposed to celebrate all that God has done in our lives, and we are supposed to honor one another. It is a time when we are supposed to repeat funny family stories, celebrate what makes us unique, and be loved unconditionally. Isn’t that the Norman Rockwell version? Guess what. That is a painting, not a picture of real life.
In real life, holidays are rarely without stress. Kids don’t always behave. Extra sugar, the lack of downtime, and the holiday stress all make an impact on them as well. If your family has to travel and sleep overnight, this too has an impact on everyone in the family. Different parenting skills and expectations will clash as well.
Holiday Boundaries with Relatives: The School Interview
For homeschooling families, there is often another layer of stress – the school interview. As homeschoolers, we often encounter strangers who feel free to give us their unsolicited opinion on homeschooling. Sometimes we have that opinionated relative who isn’t shy about questioning our education methods as well.
It is bad enough when they try to coerce us into defending our choices, but often they don’t stop there. Our children will be cornered and be given a pop-quiz of the inquisitor’s choice as to what information they think a child of that age ought to know. Ironically, the public-school cousins are never given this treatment to ensure that they are receiving a quality education.
Holiday Boundaries with Relatives: Set your Boundaries
What is a homeschool parent to do? Set your boundaries.
Here is the deal. Your children are yours. God gave them to you to raise, and you are accountable only to God for how they are raised.
If you and your spouse have prayed and sought out God’s guidance, and decided that homeschooling is God’s will for your family – no one else’s opinion matters.
Holiday Boundaries with Relatives: Do Not Tolerate Disrespect
Your job now as a parent is to guard the heart of your spouse and your children. We do this by not allowing others to disrespect us, our spouse, or our children. Set your boundary.
We are to honor our father and mother; but when we get married, we leave their home and cleave to our spouse in a new home. Our marriage becomes the primary relationship. We can honor our parents to the extent that they do not cause you to go against your spouse and the decisions that you have made as a family.
What this means is that if your parent is speaking ill of your spouse, you need to stand up for them. A husband needs to protect his wife’s heart and spirit from attack by his family. A wife must do the same for her husband.
Holiday Boundaries with Relatives: Set your Boundaries Verbally
If your parent is speaking ill of a decision that you and your spouse have made, you need to cut them off. Tell them firmly and calmly that your decision about homeschooling is not up for debate. If they something positive to say fine, if not – you don’t want to hear it.
Instruct your children to recognize the pop-quiz and to tell that nosy relative that they were told to tell her to ask mommy or daddy if you have any questions about school.
Proactively, let the repeat offender know that their questions to your child are rude and inappropriate.
Holiday Boundaries with Relatives: Set your Boundaries Physically
We sometimes have those stubborn relatives that just do not listen. Be willing to leave the situation.
It is not okay to have someone disrespect you or your spouse. It allows resentment and frustration to hurt your marriage. Sometimes people need to you to show them the calm, quiet resolve to leave as a sign of how serious you take their verbal bullying.
Be prepared to walk out, and actually do it. No yelling, just calm action. Just like with our children with discipline, we need to set up our boundary and stick to you. And just like our children, your family will know that you are serious.
Bullying is when you will not agree to disagree on a situation and continue to pester someone into agreeing with you. Appeasement and subtleness often are lost on those who are used to verbal bullying. Instead, you need to be united, firm, and direction with your boundaries.
Holiday Boundaries with Relatives: Have a Wing Man or Woman
Do you go to your parents’ house for the holidays and the problem isn’t them but another relative? Speak to your parents about this behavior. They may not realize how disrespectful you or your husband find the behavior to be.
Advise them of your resolve to leave the gathering if necessary. Don’t have your parents fight your battles for you. Matthew 18 tells us that we need to confront one another in love directly first.
However, your parents need the opportunity to confront the bullying going on in their house as well.
Enjoy a Holiday with Boundaries
Have you heard the saying that good fences make good neighbors? Good boundaries make for healthy families.
Setting up healthy boundaries not only protects your marriage and children, but it also models healthy family relationships for them as they grow up. One day your child will get married and will need to establish healthy boundaries with you as well.
Children and adult thrive on love and respect. Train up your child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will know how to treat others and what to not put up with as well.
Looking for more homeschool advice around the holidays? Check out “5 Tips for Homeschooling through the Holidays.”
Homeschooling through the dark days of winter can be hard. Get encouragement with “Overcome Winter Homeschool Burnout.”
The voice behind FaithfulMotherhood.com is Jyn. She is a veteran homeschool mom of three. More than just a pastor’s wife, she holds a Master of Divinity degree and has served in church leadership for over 20 years. Her passion is equipping parents to live out their calling as the number one faith influencer for their children. She longs to see moms empowered by God’s Word and transferring that love to their children through daily Bible study and family devotions.