Holidays tend to be FULL of judgy family members who are all too happy to point out that your Autistic child only eats bread and crackers at holiday dinners or they never give hugs to Great Aunt Sally.
It’s basically the worst.
So in this post, I’ll be sharing 3 solid steps to deal with judgy family during the holidays!
3 Steps to Deal With Judgy Family During the Holidays
If we haven’t met yet, hey friend, I’m Kaylene
And I am an Autistic adult and parent-coach that helps parents of autistic children drop the “autism mom” label and become the parent-advocate that their kids truly need.
So if you’re looking to be able to truly accommodate your child, balance your family life, and create real change through advocacy, feel free to hop over to AutisticMama.com/Apply and fill out the form to access an advanced private training!
Enough about that, let’s dive into the tips for dealing with judgment!
Step One: Focus On Facts, Not Opinions
Have you ever been super frustrated about a family member judging you only to find out they weren’t thinking what you thought they were thinking?
It’s totally happened to me.
Because as humans, we are always using our own perceptions to make up stories about what others must be thinking, feeling, or doing.
But our perceptions and opinions aren’t always right.
So instead of fretting over what you think someone must be thinking, save your stress for only overt judgments.
Basically, if your Great Aunt Sally looks at you sideways when you give your kid a plate filled with only Hawaiian rolls, let it slide.
You don’t really know that she’s judging you.
On the other hand, if your Great Aunt Sally says “don’t you ever feed him REAL food?!” then feel free to handle that judgment using the next few steps.
This is just going to save a lot of your energy, spoons, and headaches!
Step Two: Decide Your Boundaries
Am I overreacting??
That’s probably my #1 question that I ask myself every holiday season.
It is really hard to know when you should just smile and nod and when you should stand up and advocate for yourself and your family.
So you want to get clear on your boundaries ahead of time to avoid wondering if they were REALLY being rude, or you were just being sensitive.
If this is the first year you’re setting any sort of boundaries with your family during the holidays, I recommend keeping this as simple as possible by focusing on safety and consent.
Set a boundary when someone judges you or your child for doing something to keep your child safe:
- Not going to a certain event because your child would elope
- Letting go of certain expectations to help your child avoid a meltdown
- Not giving your child certain foods that hurt their stomach
Set a boundary when someone judges you or your child for doing something regarding consent:
- Your child not giving family members hugs or kisses
- Declining an invitation to an event that would overwhelm your child
- Not forcing your child to eat foods they don’t like in order to be polite
Step Three: Plan Out Your Scripts
No matter how much you plan in advance, you are going to face some family members who overstep your boundaries and judge your family.
So you should have a plan in place for exactly what you’ll say when that happens.
Because let’s be honest… It’s a lot easier to stand up for yourself to a stranger than it is to stand up for yourself to a family member.
Many of us are breaking cycles, and the more prepared you are ahead of time the easier it will be.
So here are a few example scripts for when a family member is judging you or your Autistic child and crossing one of your boundaries:
- I know you really love to (Thing They Want), but I need (Thing You Need) to happen instead. Is there anything you need from me in order to make that happen?
- I hear you saying (Thing They’re Saying) and I can tell that you really care about (Child’s Name). The thing is, we really need (Thing You Need) in order to help (Child’s Name) enjoy their holiday.
- It seems like you’re having a hard time because (Child’s Name) is doing (Thing They’re Doing). That really helps them to stay regulated, so they’re going to keep doing it. Is there something we could do to make it easier for you?
So now you’re basically a pro at dealing with judgy family members during the holidays.
We talked about how to think in facts, not opinions, how to set & communicate boundaries, and how to plan out your scripts ahead of time.
(Plus I shared a few of my own go-to scripts!)
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