Q: [School Age] Thanksgiving is a fun time for the whole family, except my daughter. It’s 2014! How can I make sure she’s included in the football fun, be it in the backyard or even just sitting around watching the game, instead of our family members expecting her to help in the kitchen.
A: It must be very difficult for you and your daughter to decide how to respectfully address your family about her desire to get involved in more of the football fun. Whether it is the boys not including her or the women expecting her to help, she may feel conflicted when she is forced to do something that she doesn’t want to do.
If the concern is feeling rejected by the guys playing or watching football, you may want to help her figure out how best to fit in. If she is confident, she will have a much easier time. Perhaps she could ask an informed question about the game as she sits down to watch the game. This lets them know that she can hold her own at talking football.
If your concern is that others would push her to join in the kitchen activities, you may want to remind your family about how much you want her to become a well-rounded confident woman. When speaking to someone that questions why she is not helping in the kitchen, you can say, “I really do enjoy it when she helps out in the kitchen. She is amazing at it. Although I really want her to be herself and she loves sports. At least this way she can spend time with everyone in the family, even if they are playing or watching football.”
Perhaps a private word with her father or other male family member reminding them of her interest is enough to do the trick. Sometimes though, these dynamics can be complicated. Whether it is a well-intentioned relative judging your daughter, or your daughter having difficulty being assertive, there is usually a solution that works for everybody.
Michael Uram is a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) who treats ADHD, Anxiety, Depression and Asperger’s through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Collaborative Problem Solving. He has a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Pepperdine University. www.michaeluram.com