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Terri Mauro

The Twelve Day-Ruiners of Christmas: Relatives

By December 24, 2012

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Day 12Maybe your extended family has risen to embrace your child with special needs. Maybe they are an unending source of comfort and support. Maybe they're eager to step forward and help with your child, provide you with respite, fight side by side with you for services or coverage. God bless them, and may you all have a peaceful holiday together. (Go ahead and brag on them on the Readers Respond pages for thanking a special grandparent or sharing nice things people say.) Unfortunately, for many families of kids with differences, family gatherings are a gauntlet of judgment, cluelessness, and neglect, with alleged loved ones quick to tell you all those things you need to know for your own good, dear, and all the ways they know what your child needs better than you do, whether it's a good spanking or a stealthy dose of that thing he's supposed to be allergic to. Good times!

While you probably can't change your family members, and you certainly can't exchange them like so many unwanted Christmas gifts, you can try to change your attitude -- in the same way that you might (to the derision of said loved ones) adjust your expectations for your child based on what can realistically be accomplished. Read my articles on "Special Needs and Special Occasions" and "Dealing With Toxic People" for some ideas on structuring visits and applying behavior-management principles to your kinfolk, respectively. Then at least get a laugh out of the ordeal with my "Family Gathering Survival Kit," "Family Gathering Bingo," and "Family Member Apology Template." Finally, when the big day is over, report back on your relatives' bad behavior on the Readers Respond page for toxic family tales.

More Day-Ruiners: #11 Worship Services | #10 Travel | #9 Disrupted Routines #8 Parties #7 Bad Food#6 Bad Gifts#5 Stress | #4 Comparisons#3 Dress-Up | #2 Shopping | #1 Traditions

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