5 Tips to Help Hurting Parents Survive the Holidays

by | Nov 18, 2019 | what you can do, holidays | 2 comments

photo cred. pexels

Holidays are the most difficult time of year for anyone in emotional pain, especially hurting parents.

I’ve been one. My heart was full of  sadness over my daughter’s struggles and destructive choices. My pain was from the issues she struggled with: alcohol, drugs, self-injury, mental illness, and more.

Not in a festive mood, all I could think about was the latest trauma or dreading what the next one might be. Where is God?  How can I survive this so-called happy season?

Are you worn out? Negative emotions take their toll.  Another holiday season is on the way. You don’t feel ready.

Ask yourself: On a scale of 1 to 10 – 1 is no stress and 10 is super stressful – how hard will this holiday season be for you? Why did you pick the number you did?

God understands.

The following tips helped my husband and I lower our stress level during the holidays.

5 Tips for Surviving the Holidays:

1) Adjust or lower expectations – this will help you be content no matter what happens. Let go of how you need things to be.

2) Consider doing things differently – if your family’s traditions will only make you feel sadder or be too difficult in light of your current situation, consider what changes you could make.

3) Avoid social media – hearing about other people’s happy homecomings and family gatherings can make you feel worse. Why subject yourself to it? Take a break from social media until January 2nd. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. will still be there waiting for you in 2020.

4) Focus on others – look for a way to help someone else. Opportunities abound. Doing something anonymously is extra fun. This shifts the focus off yourself and brings joy to everyone involved.

5) Be grateful – give thanks no matter how you feel. Start a gratitude journal; record small, everyday things, not just big things. I started a gratitude journal in 2009. Today my list is over 8,000. This practice has had a huge impact on me. It could for you, too.

I hope there’s something on our list that will help you survive the holidays a little better than you might have.

If you have some additional ideas, please share them in comments.

Prayer: God Who Cares, please use something on this list to lighten our heavy burden this holiday season. Even the thought of Thanksgiving and Christmas intensifies our pain. Our heart hurts and tears come without warning. Comfort us, Lord. Bathe our wounds with Your healing love. Help us, we pray. Thank You for how very much You care. In the name of Your son, Jesus. Amen.

These Scriptures are another source of encouragement:

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted (troubled)  (Psalm 25:16).

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace (Psalm 19:11).


* What helps you lower stress and survive the holidays? (please share your thoughts in comments)


  1. Carrie liles

    Excellent ideas! Another idea is to ask God to help you forgive your son or daughter.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Yes! I agree! I wrote about that in my book You Are Not Alone in the chapter on forgiveness. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Carrie!
      Warmly in Christ,