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"A Holiday Reflection"

By Ann Houck

3 minute read

You want to build 2023 into a new year of peace and hope? We must begin by asking ourselves if we are connected to our kiddos.

As you read this edition of the Oak Life Journal, you have made it through the holidays. How were they? Difficult, easy? Needing improvement? Well, then, welcome to the club.

I believe that many of us look forward to the holidays. We have memories of happy times, times spent with families, maybe traditions that we had with family and friends. Although Christmas is a Christian event, New Years is quite universal; the clock ticks on and the years roll by. So, we all face some sort of holiday event at the end of the calendar year.

But, how many of us do not have fond memories? Maybe we suffered abuse, neglect or family trauma during holiday times. When the end of the year approaches, do you think of the time with dread, wishing that you could make it all go away? Or do you anticipate the arrival with excitement, making preparations for the festivities that you want to share with others?

Do you think about the effect this period has on the children in your care? Yep, whatever feelings and thoughts you are experiencing, those kiddos are too.

What can we do to make our homes into atmospheres of peace and hope?

The last few years in the world have not been particularly marked by peace and hope. You probably notice that the children are experiencing increased anxiety and undesirable behaviors, often made worse by the holidays. So, use the experiences to get ready for the new year. This time is an opportunity to reflect on how your holidays went, think ahead to next year and plan for it. Use your experiences of this just past holiday season to inform your planning for next year.

Take a few minutes to jot down your concerns from this time. What worked and what did not work? And, think in terms of predictability. Did you prepare the children for the holidays in advance? Did you engage them in sharing preparations, planning, or letting them use their words?

And always keep in mind that getting through the holidays (or any day for that matter) truly depends on how connected we are to the children.

This is simply true.

You want to build 2023 into a new year of peace and hope? We must begin by asking ourselves if we are connected to our kiddos. To provide them with the environment that they require to feel safe we must first have a trusting connection with them. This requires building on our relationship, being honest with how we interact, and committing to being the best that we can be. Is our relationship with the kids one of power sharing, one of giving the children their voice, one of creating felt safety for each of them?

Let’s begin this year by committing to spend quality time with each child individually, and on a regular basis. Share yourself; find a way to be with them. Maybe only one or two a day at first, but focus on quality interaction. You don’t need any particular agenda except to have fun, share experiences, listen and not judge. Just a few minutes. Tell them how precious they are, and mean it. Be sincere, be playful, be honest. Just BE with the children.

Seem difficult? It may require letting go of some of our own thoughts, feelings, and preconceived notions. In short, it may require realizing that we are the tool that is going to be required to help children in our care. What is it that you want for them? A loving environment, a caring environment, a safe environment?

You are the rock that anchors them. When you let them down, (and, yes, you will) be ready to apologize, to do a redo. Be all that you can be, for yourself and for them. Get acquainted with TBRI; look yourself in the mirror and realize that you can do it. You have it within your power to make a HUGE difference for the children. Seek help in doing this, if you need.

Let’s make 2023 a year of true peace and hope.

And remember that, just like the children in your care, you too are a child of God.

Ann Houck

Licensed clinical social worker; volunteer social work supervisor for Oak Life interns; experience working with children of trauma in child protective services and school social work settings.

Ann Houck

Ann Houck

Licensed clinical social worker; volunteer social work supervisor for Oak Life interns; experience working with children of trauma in child protective services and school social work settings.

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