© 2020 Stephi Wagner, MSW

  • Stephi Wagner

12 Ways to be a Slightly Better Adult this Christmas

Updated: Jan 4, 2019

Before you sing your first carol or put up the tree, here's a list of 12 things you can do right now to be a *slightly* better adult this Christmas.

1. Do NOT force children to say "thank you" for gifts, for food, for experiences, for anything given to them.

2. DO make space for children to receive from others in ways that are authentic to them. Do not make suggestions as to what they *should* say, while keeping in mind that Cousin Cindy's desire for etiquette and civility is FAR less important than children being able to express themselves authentically.

3. Do NOT insist that children show affection - physical, verbal, emotional - to adults who want to receive affection from children more than they want to respect the autonomy of children. 

4. DO be prepared to require other adults to respect the autonomy of children to the point of using physical force to prevent them from crossing a child's boundaries.

Grandma is an adult, and she can fill her need for hugs from other consenting adults. 

5. Do NOT tell children they should feel grateful, happy, excited, etc. because it's Christmas, or Tuesday, or or or.

6. DO allow children to feel HOWEVER they really feel, on Christmas and throughout the year. Remember, we see how this suppression of emotion worked out for the boomers - do not repeat.

7. Do NOT require children to sit separately at a "kids' table" or other such similar bullshit because they are "messy," "loud," "annoying. Pretty sure your drunk Uncle Phil is all of these and more.

8. DO support children in finding places to eat that are comfortable for them, keeping in mind that new places, experiences and people may have them wanting to stay closer to those they are familiar with. Forced independence is false independence. 

9. Do NOT threaten children with cancelling gifts and experiences to manipulate them into doing what YOU want them to do.

10. DO remember that you are an adult, and this is not permission to suddenly act like a tyrannical asshole. Don't like what a child is doing? Help them. You: "I can't let you throw things by the Christmas tree. The ornaments could break. Let's go outside and throw out there." 

11. Do NOT tell children they have to wait to eat because you want to prioritize the fragile feelings of Aunt Amy who has the mistaken belief that everyone *should* be hungry at the same time.

12. DO feed hungry children. Do I need to say more on this one? Damn, I really hope not.

Fact: ALL children in our society are oppressed, and ALL adults in our society oppress children. If you are an adult, you have been conditioned to oppress of children. There are no "good adults." There are the adults who are working to dismantle their childism, and there are those who are trying convince themselves and everyone else that although they live in a society that has conditioned ALL adults to be harmful to children, they are somehow the exception.