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Tips for Celebrating Holidays With Religious Parents

Going home for the holidays is often associated with cheer…
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Going home for the holidays is often associated with cheer and festive delight. This is not always the status for those who may be going home to parents with strict adherence to their religion, however. It’s no secret that religion can be a stressor for some and cause gaps amongst family members. A personal essay in Medium from 2018 displays the psychological outcome that religion can have on the parent-child relationship.

The author, Jessica Lovejoy, explains how her parents “used religion as a tactic to keep [their] family together but all it did was push [them] further apart”. She explains that, as she grew up, and no longer held such strict adherence to their Catholic faith, her parents disapproved of her behavior and lifestyle despite her accomplishments. She notes how hurt she was by their disappointment, but how they didn’t meet her expectations for social support either. Therefore, it has helped her grow as a person and accept their relationship can just be about love, not about disapproving of each other’s behavior.

So, are you dreading the holidays this year with your religious parents? Check out the following tips for how to best handle it.

Look into Bible covers for gifts.

Whether you’re looking for simple bible covers, stylish bible covers, or elegant bible covers in sleek leather; Cokesbury has got what you’re looking for. Cokesbury has bible covers to get yourself to give you strength through the holidays or plenty of options for gifts for your religious relatives. Consider a Bible study organizer for mom that comes with plenty of space for pens, notes, and even enough room for her e-reader if she has the eBook version of the book her bible study is reading.

Maybe get a bible cover for your niece that looks like an adorable first purse for her to take to Christmas service. Or get someone a book cover containing their favorite bible verse (Psalm 46:10, John 3:16, Philippians 4:13, etc.). No matter which family member you’re shopping for, you can find a bible case to perfectly fit their individual personalities here.

If bible cases aren’t what you’re looking for, Cokesbury also has a wide selection of other print books to choose from such as devotionals, children’s books, prayer journals, journals with journal content relating to one’s life, and a plethora of books for issues you may be facing in your own life and your own faith. You will receive free shipping on orders $45.00 or more on eligible items.

Save money by using coupon codes online.

Let’s be honest — another stress of the holidays is buying gifts for family members (or the obligatory “secret Santa” at home and work). Luckily, by using CouponToken discount codes you can find special discounts on what you’re looking for. With Coupon Token you can search by category for what you need (vouchers, new arrivals, exclusive book offers, collectibles, free trial access, exclusive offers, etc.) or by the store if you already have vouchers for specific stores (cha-ching!). Once you find the coupons you’re looking for, you just copy the coupon code to add to the checkout page during the checkout process.

Coupon Token is a fantastic resource for finding discounts on Springer books (including books by Chaudoir and Quinn), Yankee Candles, jewelry, electronics, items from specific organizations, and even promotional codes and coupons for travel. Before buying any gifts for anyone this season, be sure to checkout Coupon Token first for the best coupons!

Bonus tip: be sure to pay attention to the individual coupon conditions as sometimes there are exclusions that you can easily miss.

Address the effect of stigma on you and family members regarding your sexuality.

According to a Pew Research Center article from 2017, as many as seven in ten people living in the United States think that homosexuality should be accepted by society members and only 24% think that it should be “discouraged” at the societal level. Pew also found that 62% of Americans are in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry legally (which leaves 38% opposed). While attitudes surrounding homosexuality have greatly shifted towards the positive in recent years, attitudes surrounding sexuality can remain very much present in religious families causing a lot of psychological distress to those who may be struggling with their sexuality and/or their internalized prejudices. Or just find prejudice to be abhorrent.

By addressing the psychological impact of negative stigmas through mental health treatment and by trying to create a healthy relationship with your family through addressing the role of stigma on your mental health you can improve your quality of life. For example, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stigmas can affect gay men’s physical health and mental health negatively. Not only do these stigmas have a negative effect on relationships leading to increased risk of mental health issues. Previous research from 2009 found that gay young adults who experienced “strong rejection” from their families were eight times more likely to die by suicide and six times more likely to suffer from higher levels of depression. But these stigmas also have negative consequences for proper access to clinicians for proper medical care leading to effects on HIV status.

If you have been struggling with your sexuality lately, it is important to discuss these mental health issues with a therapist who is LGBTQ+-informed to best help you handle how to tackle your issues with stigmatizing family members, or if growing up in a religious setting has left you with a self-stigma or a concealed stigmatized identity (maybe you aren’t ready to accept your sexuality, it’s time to talk about it).

Address any other negative stereotypes that may need to be addressed.

Let’s be honest — while coming out of the metaphorical closet is probably the biggest challenge to overcome with religious parents, it’s not the only negative stereotype they could be holding over you. For example, according to Psychology Today, a 2016 study on adult women between the ages of 20-35 found that those who could remember their parents commenting on their weight and/or eating habits were more likely to be dissatisfied with their bodies (regardless of BMI) and were more prone to have a higher BMI later in life.

Weight stigma can go either way. It can be your mother commenting that you should skip pie because you’re “overweight” and “obesity kills” or your father commenting that he worries that your physical health is at risk because you’re “too thin.” Remember, you’re allowed to eat and/or not eat whatever you want despite your family’s weight stigma. If your parent’s weight stigma has caused your psychological distress, consider discussing how this affects your mental health and that health outcomes aren’t solely tied to one’s weight. Visiting your family should never result in low self-esteem.

Be honest, request respect, and display love.

Getting together with people we’re related to, but don’t always agree with can be a lot to handle (especially in an election year). You should never put your mental health at risk just to please your family. Make sure to discuss any troubling behavior with family members as they arise without placing blame or being confrontational. Keep in mind that while they may be stigmatizing you because of the way you live or the things you believe in, you are also capable of stigmatizing them for the same reasons. Be ready to agree to disagree respectfully. Leaving in a huff will only result in loneliness.

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