For many people, the holidays can be a stressful time. You may be feeling the pressure to please everyone, but are facing the reality of not having enough money or time. Family obligations add to this busy time of year. If you have children and feel anxious about spending time with their grandparents, there are strategies that you can use to create a more positive experience.
While the holidays are supposed to be synonymous with "joy," "love," and "togetherness," the reality is that you may be feeling grief, sadness, confusion, or frustration. Keep in mind that your children's grandparents may be going through the same range of emotions. As much as you want things to go smoothly between you and the in-laws (as well as other family members), the truth is you cannot control how people will react to you. You may say something that triggers a negative response or vice versa. Rather than expecting the perfect holiday, expect that there may be some fun times as well as some struggles. By thinking this way, you will be able to free yourself from the pressure of perfection.
Most grandparents want to spend the holidays with their grandchildren. This can get complicated and expensive, though, if you live far from them. Talk to your spouse, children, and grandparents to explore the options. While you will not be able to make everyone happy, you may be able to come up with a reasonable solution. For example, if you live close by, the day may be split so that your children spend the morning with your parents and the afternoon with your spouse's parents. If travel is involved, the grandparents may be willing to help you with the expenses. Were you thinking of spending several days with the family? Consider staying at a nearby inn or motel, rather than all being under the same roof. This may give you the space that you need to relax.
When several generations gather under the same roof, there are bound to be differing views when it comes to lifestyle choices, religion, politics, and finances. Personality clashes may also arise. If you have older children, they may become annoyed with a grandparent's "old-fashioned" values and habits. Before getting together for the holidays, it may be helpful for you to prepare yourself and your children for potential conflicts that may arise and talk about positive ways to diffuse problems. Remember that your children will look to see how you are handling a situation. If your goal is to remain civil with your in-laws and avoid making negative remarks, then this will set a good example for your kids.
If an issue does come up, there are strategies that you can use to create a healthier resolution, such as:
If you are feeling caught in a stressful moment, you can try deep breathing or repeating a mantra. A mantra is a sound, word, or phrase that you repeat to calm the mind. Your mantra can be anything that you find positive and comforting, like the sound "om" or the word "peace."
Here are some additional strategies that can help you to manage the holiday season:
By making changes in how you think about and react to your children's grandparents, you can take steps to have a less stressful and more positive holiday gathering. In the end, this will be better for you, your spouse, your children, and the grandparents.
American Psychological Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychological Association
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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