Family Feud over Fourth of July

Dear Readers: This is a timely “oldie but goodie” from our files. Enjoy! 

Dear Vicki: The Fourth of July is coming up and it’s turning into a real challenge for our family. My sixteen-year-old daughter, Joni, wants to have a huge picnic, invite all of her friends, and shoot off fireworks after dark (we live where they are legal). Stella, my twelve-year-old, hates noise and crowds so wants a quiet family gathering or maybe even a night at the movies. Of course, Joni claims that would be boring. To make matters worse, Jake, my husband, thinks taking the whole family camping in the wilderness – along with a few close friends – would solve the problem. But I’m the one everyone looks to for organizing and cooking on a camping trip, and it doesn’t sound like fun to me. So, we are a family divided. Any suggestions? Signed, Fractured Family

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Dear Fractured Family: Holidays are never easy because everyone has expectations, and those expectations will always be colored by our elemental personalities. Different personalities will want to celebrate holidays in different ways, as you are clearly finding out. So, let’s take a look at how to resolve the issues and create the possibility of a happy July 4thcelebration for everyone.

Joni, who wants a big party with lots of people, excitement, and activity sounds like a primary Fire personality. Excitement and activity are the epitome of fun for Fire people. And fireworks? The name says it all. Plus, the Independence Day holiday occurs during summer, which is Fire’s season. This means Joni’s Fire personality is likely revved up even more by summer and she’s really ready to party.

The fact that Stella wants the quiet and darkness of a movie theater suggests she might be a primary Water personality. The outgoing yang activities of summer, especially the noise and excitement of July 4th, are the exact opposite of what Stella’s Water energy will crave. Water people enjoy peaceful, solitary, and quiet activities, so a huge party and fireworks won’t be her thing at all.

Jake sounds like he might be a primary Earth personality. Camping with friends is very Earthy: time out in nature is one of the most important ways to ground and feed an Earth person’s soul. Being with close group friends is also important to Earth personalities.

And you, Ms. Fractured Family, are probably a primary Wood personality. Making sure everything runs smoothly, whether camping or at home, takes the planning and manifestation skills of a Wood person. The good news is that those Wood skills are exactly what’s needed to solve your family’s July 4th dilemma.

Start by reminding everyone that family life is about compromise, but within the compromise can be nuggets that will meet everyone’s needs. Jake’s Earth personality and Joni’s Fire personality both value connections. And while Joni will want a larger and crazier party than your husband will, you can use your Wood planning skills to create structure and boundaries around how many people are invited to the party you host for July 4th. While camping is important to Earth people, being home with close family and friends also matters, so Jake should be almost as happy hosting family and friends at home as he might have been camping in the wilderness.

To meet Joni’s need for a party atmosphere, suggest she invite five or six close girlfriends for a picnic and fireworks celebration outside (weather permitting, of course). As you probably know well, six teenage girls can easily feel like a crazy party, which will feed Joni’s Fire energy. Plus, it’s her party, so that will make Joni the center of attention with her girlfriends, which will also feed her Fire. You can enlist the girls to help you with food preparations, too, which will take some of the burden off of you.

As for sweet Stella, see if she’d also like to invite a few close girlfriends. One or two would probably be the max she’d enjoy. It’s very likely they will all be Water personalities, too, or maybe Earth. I’m guessing that you probably have a den or family room in your house where your family watches movies. Make that available to Stella and her friends so that they can watch a movie of their choice inside while the party is going on outside.

That said, don’t be surprised if Stella and her friends wander outside for the fireworks in spite of her reported dislike of them. I suspect that part of Stella’s dismissal of fireworks was her innate Water response to her Fire sister who she probably perceived as out of control. Stella and Joni relate to each other on the Controlling Cycle of the Five Elements model and Water people often subconsciously feel like it’s their job in life to keep Fire people from being too wild. But if you’ve managed the whole event well (as I fully expect you, as a Wood person, to do), Stella will probably feel that Joni isn’t too out of control, so will join the family for the fireworks. After all, it’s the Fourth of July!

Blessings to you and your family, and I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Independence Day celebration!

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