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With over 1.000 articles and 400 podcasts from 15 years. – By Roland Kopp-Wichmann. But beware: reading can touch your heart, open your eyes and influence your life.

You get older on your own. You have to do something to grow up.

The feast of love is not always a date everyone looks forward to. The children certainly still the most. But for adults Christmas is sometimes not untroubled.

Not only the stress in the weeks before, but also the holidays themselves are sometimes fraught with problems. According to statistics, disputes are very frequent at Christmas and divorce lawyers are also busier in the weeks after the Festival of Lights. What is the reason?

I think at Christmas it shows how grown up we have become.

You get older on your own. You have to do something to grow up. Christmas is the time when most people come together with their families, and it becomes clear whether being with your parents quickly turns you back into the child you were back then – or whether you’ve grown up in the meantime.

But what does "adulthood" mean??
My definition of this is:

We are adults when we are detached from our parents
And still have contact with them.

Inner detachment always plays a bigger role than outer detachment.

But it’s not so easy to break away from your parents. For both sides. Because when the youngest child (son or daughter) is over twenty, parents also realize, more or less painfully, that they are now much older and the parenting phase is irrevocably over. And that you have to let the children go.

Whether and how well parents are able to do this also depends on how the parents experience their relationship in the meantime. And whether and how both can fill the resulting gap in time, space and meaning.

If the parents have experienced themselves the last years only as "dad" and "mom" – instead of also as a couple – it can be that the parents do not want to let go of the "child", in order not to feel the spreading emptiness between themselves so clearly.

But this step is important. Adolescents need to detach themselves from their parents so they can form intimate bonds outside the family.

The parents’ task is ultimately to enable the young person to leave them and lead his or her own life. But what has worked well in the animal kingdom for millions of years is not so easy with humans – perhaps because of their comparatively long childhoods.

"Mother’s son" or the "father’s daughter" are examples of what consequences unconscious conflicts can have, if this detachment is not seen as a development intended by evolution, but as an attack on the own person.

Several books and movies have dealt with this topic (Loriot’s "Oedipussi", "My bride, her father and me", "Father of the bride"). Even my favorite comedian Dieter Nuhr knows this topic and reports here how a mother’s lack of letting go can affect a man’s life:

Breaking away from parents is not easy. There are two ways to avoid detachment:


That looks then as a young man or daughter is not in a hurry to move out of home. (Here are the latest figures.) Because it is so comfortable at home with mother. The food in the "Hotel Mama" tastes good and the laundry is also done for free. The father takes care of financial matters, the insurance stuff or the winter tires.

Or to the young couple looking for a place to stay, the parents offer an apartment in their own house or a neighbor’s property on which to build a house.

Each has a key to the other’s apartment, on vacation they water each other’s flowers and the little child is looked after by grandma. Everyone finds this terribly practical, but the necessary separation is not exactly easy this way.

The consequences often show up in the couple relationship, because the man has to choose between his mother and his partner (and the woman between her father and her husband). Many mother-in-law jokes deal with this topic.

Another way to avoid detachment is to ..


To get away from it all, you move at least 400 km away for your job or your studies, even if closer cities offer similarly good study conditions. The motto, however, is: "Let’s get away – as far as possible."Also, you have a good excuse when your parents complain on the phone that you see each other so rarely: "I would like to visit you more often, but 400 kilometers is a long way." And one is sure that the parents also do not come over on a jump.

Having grown a bit older, as a couple you move even further away. To London or to Australia. There you can finally "breathe freely" but most importantly, your parents no longer threaten you with surprise weekend visits.Rebellion is an important phase – in adolescence.

There the young person "must" do everything differently than the parents, in order to find his own identity. In the rebellion one does the opposite of everything. If the father has short hair, you wear it long – and vice versa.

But Rebellion is not yet something of its own. It’s adjustment – with the sign reversed and therefore predictable – like the opposition’s opinion on a government proposal. And some people stay stuck in rebellion for a lifetime.

But what does all this have to do with Christmas??

Well, Christmas can show whether and how you are detached. You may already notice this in the festive preparations.

How do you celebrate Christmas?

Already when a couple gets together, they have to find a common celebration that suits both of them. Because inevitably everyone brings his usual ideas with him.

If these are far apart ("Christmas without a real Christmas tree is not a real Christmas for me!" versus "A plastic tree is much more practical – and ecological").

Now you have to negotiate with each other and find a workable solution. Do the parents now join in and make comments on the subject ("What? You do not even have a real tree? This must be your wife’s idea!") the reaction of the man quickly shows how far he has become detached.

Says he to his wife: "See, my parents think the plastic tree is terrible too" he prefers the coalition with the parents – and risks a fight with his wife in the next hours, because she feels that he has stabbed her in the back.

Says he: "We had different ideas, but decided on this solution" the parents are probably a bit piqued ("We don’t like it but please, it’s your decision!") Ds they instinctively feel that the son has drawn a line. And that is a necessary limit – around the couple.

Where do you celebrate Christmas?

Again, this shows how grown up each of the partners has become.

A poorly detached partner may say:
"So, Christmas we have to go to my parents. Everything else my father does not accept!"
Or: "My favorite thing would be to celebrate Christmas Eve at our house and that we visit our parents on the holidays." On it he: "I can’t leave my lonely mother alone on Christmas Eve, can I?."

Don’t get me wrong: of course it’s all right to Wishes to take everyone’s needs into account and try to accommodate as many as possible.

There are three phases in a man’s life: He believes in Santa Claus. Not believing in Santa Claus. He is Santa Claus.

Wishes, expectations and demands.

The operative word here is "Wishes" – Not expectations or demands.

In the end it depends on it Your Christmas party to which you invite your parents. Or whether you sacrifice your wishes to the expectations of the parents, because you fear that otherwise there will be disappointment, ill-temper and quarrels.

Wishes you can refuse or modify. With demands ("That’s not too much to ask, after all we’ve done for you/you") it is already more difficult. If one does not detach enough now, the conflict seems unsolvable and one must either adapt or rebel.

With the Adaptation one then tries to please as many as possible ("It is Christmas after all!") – but pays a price for it. Either by spending too much and the whole celebration doesn’t bring you joy anymore.

Or by unconsciously provoking a quarrel, because one pacts more with the parents of the dear peace and the partner feels however exactly that one gave priority to the secret or open coalition.

Relationships are always about loyalties.

If a man and a woman find themselves together as a couple, as a new family, in order for the couple to have a future, they must reduce their loyalty to their respective family of origin. This decision is not easy – which is why some people shy away from it.

In Rebellion one tries to find one’s own by refusing or withdrawing from the expectations of one’s parents. If the couple lives very far away, seems the detachment succeeded. ("Our parents can’t expect us to come all the way from New Zealand just for Christmas, can they?. And they do not come around quickly!")

Even a breakup of the relationship ("I haven’t had any contact with my mother for years") is not a detachment from my point of view. For what you strongly reject, you remain attached to.

And it is about the topic "separateness" and "connectedness.

  • To what extent is it possible for me to experience myself separately in a relationship even as an individual (connected – not bound)?
  • Do I have to completely detach myself from the desires of the other in order to maintain my identity ("I don’t care what you want.")
  • Or do I always have to give in to the other person’s wishes because I fear that otherwise the other person will reject me and the relationship will suffer?? ("If it’s good for you, it’s good for me too.")

How would you prefer to celebrate Christmas?

If these thoughts make sense to you, you can ask yourself concretely:

  1. How would you prefer to celebrate Christmas (in concrete terms: celebration, food, presents, etc.)?.) if it were only up to you?
  2. What are your partner’s ideas and wishes?
  3. What do you fear YourWould celebrate Christmas the way it is right for you?
  4. What are the consequences of not doing it?
  5. How would it be if you took the coming celebration as an opportunity to detach yourself – if necessary – a little bit?

Listen to this post here as a podcast ..

I wrote this article on 8.12.2007. An editor from Kreuz-Verlag read it, called me and out of it came my first book. Thank you again, dear Mrs. R. I publish it here again, because I think it has not lost its topicality.

How do you celebrate Christmas?
How would you like to celebrate?

PS: If you liked this post, please tell others: on Facebook, Twitter or by email.

I publish this post every now and then at christmas time.
Simply because it is still up to date.

Photo: © somegeekintn-visualhunt, howardignatius visualhunt, Fritzi,

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Blogging here weekly since July 2005. Leads intensive personality seminars: 6 participants, 3 days, 1 coach. Writing books, eBooks and e-mail courses. Now even draws cartoons.

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You’re right: Christmas is no time to start peeling off. On the other 362 days this also works.

Why do you have to practice to detach yourself at Christmas of all days?. Why not honor your father and mother and include them in the celebration with your grandchildren?. What problems do you have in pleasing your parents and involving them at least a little bit in your life?. How many sit alone at home all year and don’t even have entertainment at Christmas despite the kids?.
Then experts also give such selfish advice.

I have been in a fixed relationship for 10 years, but every year my partner is forced by his parents to appear at Christmas, otherwise they sulk for months, almost like small children in the defiance phase – I have never experienced such a thing, although I know Christmas stress from childhood, which settled with time, because later one dealt more sensibly with emotions and practiced restraint, or that one has learned to be happy to really be there for each other.

My boyfriend doesn’t care about Christmas at all, he doesn’t care at all, so we wouldn’t have any stress if there wasn’t a mother who doesn’t want to detach herself- you described it very aptly, with the stored tires and the being dependent. I detached at a young age, kept in touch, but it was voluntary and not due to pressure from my family. My mother was the last years my only family, unfortunately she died this year of cancer and I will miss the togetherness – especially at Christmas we have at least phoned and written. My mother didn’t celebrate Christmas in that sense anymore, it had been celebrated just for us kids a long time ago. But we were always invited to a nice get-together and dinner on Christmas Eve – if we had other plans, this was never a problem, no one was offended, no one had expectations – what more do you want??!

But I would be happy now also for me if he could be with me instead of leaving me alone for several days. I have since last year suddenly only 35% lung capacity due to emphysema and 4 pneumothoraxes of the lung, so often can not even walk our dog. A partner who helps me a little bit would be very important right now, when my life is totally off track, a lot of things are not feasible anymore, like work, future plans for several years, because it can be over very fast. If I had one wish, it would be that my boyfriend could be with me except for rare, professionally unavoidable trips and that his parents could get by with one overnight stay per visit instead of three – he sees them every few months, also because he often works together with his father and brother professionally.

My friend said I am now his family, but this unfortunately no one recognizes, just as little what we both actually want. You also wrote about when parents are stuck in the role of father and mother, this is also true in our case. Normally at 34 you don’t have a mother who can look into your son’s account…The rest of the year is also about my friend seemingly replacing his father, his mother’s husband in a way. So z.B Perseids look in August, because the father has no access at all to his wife and has no idea to do something with her (a long time ago he committed adultery with her girlfriend) and buries himself morbidly in work instead of thinking about how he can make his wife happy, because such little things are important and strengthen, but above all it helps to find each other again.

His mother has no boyfriends/girlfriends – which doesn’t surprise me after all. Christmas is additionally a problem, but it is more a year-round, so other occasions are a must as well. When I was admitted to the hospital, my boyfriend had to go abroad on business – at first his mother told me that I had priority, but it turned out differently and he flew with his father after all. On the day of his homecoming I was discharged from the hospital, it was said that he would come in the early afternoon – only he had to go to his parents’ house and drove with his father, because his car was parked there, and then of course a quick drive to me was prevented, so that I had to leave the room and wait until 19h for him to pick me up.

I would have been offered to stay an extra night, but he said he would pick me up, because just letting me go would not have been convenient.The rescue would have brought me home, only if one can go somehow, one usually carries the costs. On the question of the mother of my friend, why he would like so hurriedly to me, the mother answered only, she should take nevertheless a cab! That was on 8.December, at 10. I had a birthday, but no one congratulated me, although I had just survived by a hair’s breadth and it could happen again at any time. Worst of all, my partner does not make visits because of parents, but actually only because of his grandma who lives there in the house and the usual tire change that always makes mother for him…to talk to him, unfortunately, has never worked, even now that I told him it was very important to free himself….

I have never existed for his family, has never been invited to the parental home, all 10 years. I was always of the opinion, I am with him and not with his family resp. that I will not expose myself to all this. There are usually frictions in families, but by something more adult, less ego-driven misbehavior, usually not as bad as it is the case here.

I like your blog very much, because various constellations are described and possible solutions are listed, which have only confirmed my views once again, as well as my misconception that everything would relax because I let him do it.

Love and thank you for your post!

Committed certainly not. But if the relationship is good, it usually happens that one celebrates together. Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case with you.

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