For youth with strained family relationships, the holidays can bring up both happy and sad memories. It can surface feelings of loss, anger, disappointment and loneliness. For these youth, the holiday cheer is all around them and yet they stand on the outside looking in. Social media posts of holiday merriment are reminders of what they can’t attain, and this can lead to unhealthy comparisons with others and bring about an acute feeling of loneliness.
Our Family and Natural Supports team help our youth reconcile and reconnect with family. They know how difficult the holidays are for youth with complicated family relationships. The team works to provide them with extra support during this time, especially as their desire to reconnect with family increases over the holidays.
“That sense of loneliness can impact someone's self-worth or self-esteem and generate feelings of inadequacy. The best response is to find ways to build connections,” said Justin, who leads the Family and Natural Supports (FNS) team of counsellors.
The FNS team prepares youth and family to reconnect by:
- Helping them create boundaries. “Decide what topics are off the table and know when to walk away [when things get tense],” said Justin.
- Suggesting ways to navigate through difficult situations.
- Providing them with ways to ask for what they need.
- Encouraging them to honour their feelings around this time of year. “It’s okay to feel angry, disappointed or sad.”
- Practicing self-care.
The holidays may not be easy for our young people, but the FNS team is here to help youth and their families identify a shared goal and create a plan to achieve it—when they’re ready.