A Thanksgiving Challenge to Mom’s: Do our adult kids have to do things our way?


Photo credit: iandavid via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA


It happens every year and I barely notice, but this year I did. This year I started to resent the usual presumption my mother makes about the holidays. She determines what she wants to do and when and then informs us of her plans. She has made some modifications over the years to fit some of my siblings schedules, but overall we are informed of when to come to her house and what to bring. We have never been asked how we would like to do Thanksgiving. It’s for mom and we have considered it something we are supposed to do for her.

The thought came into my head one day. When do I get to do Thanksgiving like my husband and I want to? When do we get to make plans? Is it selfish to make our own plans with our own family first and then look at how we can fit with mom? The realization hit me. I don’t want my kids to go through this one day. I want them to have the freedom to make plans as they see fit. I don’t want them to feel like they have to do what I want.

Do our adult kids have to do things our way? No, they don’t. No, I don’t, but we get stuck and don’t know how to get out. We don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings. We aren’t sure how to start the conversation and just keep doing the same things over and over. Maybe we do broach the subject, but only after letting bitterness and pent up anger affect our announcement that we want to do things different.

What if we gave them an out?

What if we think of their new lives and how they are working so hard to find their own way and open a discussion about what they want to do for the holidays. What if we offer up suggestions for doing things alot different than we used to?

What if we take the pressure off of following the same tradition year after year? We could meet in a city between locations and share the holiday there, we could choose another day of the year and make it special, or do something new on our own.

If our children are married we can help them by taking off the pressure of choosing which parents and when. Maybe they should just stay at their own house and skip both sets of in-laws.

What if we considered letting go of the control we have had over them for so many years and just see what happens. What if we tell them to decide what they want to do and to let us know what their plans are. What if we let them have the freedom to start a new tradition without us. What if we started one without them? What if we didn’t make this one day all about what we want and considered this an opportunity to demonstrate our unselfish love for these amazing adults we had the opportunity to love and raise.

Remember: We aren’t in Kansas anymore.

My 22 year old son called me a few weeks ago. Our oldest daughter and him had a nice conversation with each other and decided that next year it would be nice for everyone to meet in New York for Christmas and spend time with my husband’s family. I was so proud of them for making this decision and so happy that they included us. Though every ounce of me wants to be with them I am determined to accept if they want to make plans on their own.

We aren’t in Kansas anymore. We aren’t in control of every aspect of the kids lives any longer. We can’t tell them what to wear, where to go, what to do, and how to live their lives. We had 18 years to put them in the car and drag them where we wanted for the holiday’s and that time is over. It’s time for us to be open to things being different and making that be okay.

We were meant and made to let them go. It’s in our spiritual DNA. We weren’t made to carry the weight of getting them where we want them their entire lives. We were meant to let them go and to concentrate on our lives. We were meant to find our own way as much as they need to find theirs.

I am betting the new way will be great!

If we get the call in a few years that no one is coming home for Christmas than we have decided that will be the year to go out West and have a holiday alone! Imagine. Doing whatever we want. I am thinking a whole day in bed, eating room service, opening gifts, and watching movies! If that doesn’t happen? Maybe we will fly to see the kids,  they will come to our house, or maybe we will have a Christmas dinner with friends who have no kids. I don’t know, but I see it as an opportunity to do some exciting things.

Where is it written that we have to put such emphasis on these two days of the year? Is it about being thankful to God and celebrating Christ’s birth or is it about having things the way we want. What’s it “really” about? Can’t we demonstrate a Christ-like attitude by giving them up to find their own way like God gave up His son for us. Is that not reason enough to consider letting go of how mom wants it and instead embrace how they want it.

God has a plan in the letting go. He has to. He made things to change and we can trust Him in that. We may never know what it is in store for our lives if we don’t accept it. The more I think of having a Christmas alone with my husband in Portland the more excited I get! So you know we may just call off Christmas with our kids and enjoy the time together one of these days.

Consider one way you can give your adult children a way out, or make a change that centers on their needs and desires. If you have small children consider how you may want to change the holiday’s and start having conversations with your parents. Be sure you ready yourself for the day your kids leave and want to spend a few holiday’s on their own. It’s going to be great!

Marcy Pedersen






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