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Navigating Family Dynamics during Festive Seasons: The Military Perspective

We understand that the festive season can evoke one of two contrasting feelings. First, you might find yourself regretfully wishing it were over, but deep down, you can imagine how you'd like it to be. You envision your mom and dad, siblings, and all your kids' cousins running around outside, playing games that build a sense of unity. Alternatively, you might picture everyone gathering at a central location, temporarily shedding the weight of home and work responsibilities, allowing you to rest and share the load with others, including your husband. This could be your time to escape from the pressures and burdens you've accumulated over the years, some of which probably aren't even yours to carry.

Most of the time, when I meet with clients, it's just you and me. I meet people who've taken on responsibilities dictated by culture or family, responsibilities that, quite frankly, aren't theirs to bear. In many cases, we've allowed others to impose their obligations on us out of fear of conflict and disconnection.

Why do we let the festive season become a time of feeling burdened and overwhelmed? Christy, our mental health coach, and I want to equip you with tools and insights to shift your perspective and create a different outcome for the upcoming festive season. We want you to embrace a renewed perspective, release the weight you shouldn't be carrying, and fully immerse yourself in moments with your family, enhancing those relationships that will last a lifetime. So, whether you're staying at home or traveling, whether you have a unique family dynamic, we're here to walk alongside you and help you experience peace and joy.

Let's start your journey with your "why." I always like to say that we can provide you with the tools, but, as Christy puts it, "you have to give us the right coordinates to your home." What does that mean? Your home's location, in this context, symbolizes where your heart is. What are you longing for? What are you missing? What goals do you have for your relationships? Given that the festive season revolves around relationships, we believe that the health of your relationships starts with your own well-being.

In reality, families can have their share of dysfunction, some more than others. The key question is, where are you in your relationship goals? Are there unresolved issues that bring about feelings of depression or anxiety? The first step is to examine your own mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual health. Your well-being will guide you through the questions that either hinder or support your family's growth towards peace and joy. We all seek a place where we feel seen, safe, secure, and soothed – a place that validates whether we feel accepted and belong among our family.

The end state should be defined by you, and it's something you can imagine and create. Realism in this season and phase of life will help you set appropriate expectations that align with your overall well-being and impact your mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual goals.

If you're a military family, we have specific tools to support you. To begin, assessing your spouse's overall well-being is crucial for navigating this conversation effectively, and the sooner you start, the better. If your spouse is experiencing significant anxiety, it's essential to address the unknowns and "what ifs" to help navigate their thoughts. This step will provide valuable insight into their perspective.

Initiate the conversation by asking questions like, "What do you envision doing, or how do you see yourself during the upcoming festive season?" By opening up this dialogue, you can also share your thoughts, guiding you toward determining the next steps you both want to take. It's important to use open-ended questions and be honest about your needs while considering your unique season and phase of life.

For example, if your children are a bit older and can actively participate in these discussions, it adds another dimension to consider. We want every family member to feel valued and heard as you navigate the seasons, especially if going home may bring up emotions tied to unresolved issues within the extended family. Think about how each family member might respond and consider ways to diffuse potential conflicts. Instead of adding fuel to the fire, approach these situations with love, a sense of family, compassion, and service, which are values many families agree upon.

Understanding your personal values and the values that truly guide your family is essential. These guiding principles can help you make decisions that serve your families and communities effectively.

Our team here at Full Range Foundation hope you experience a joyful and peaceful festive season over the next two holiday months, filled with meaningful co

nversations and activities that align with your family's values.

Here's a free pdf question guide to help you navigate the Holiday season.

-Emma Martin

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Hi, I am Emma Martin, the co-founder and Transitional Life Coach at Full Range Foundation. "Strength in Every Step" emerged from a personal story rooted in my family's military journey. During the fal


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