We’ve all been there: One spouse wants to spend holidays with their side of the family, while the other spouse wants to spend the holidays with their side. An argument ensues. When did everything become so heated around the holidays? When kids got involved.
Most family therapists and psychologists agree the holiday season can bring extra stress for family gatherings, but what actually keeps the peace between conflicted parents? Katie Hurley, Southern California-based licensed clinical social worker and author of “The Happy Kid Handbook” points out the importance of parents discussing and confirming family plans in advance, without the kids around. “It’s very important for parents to discuss this topic when they have some time alone so that they can talk about their wish lists. What are the traditions that hold the most meaning to you?” Once decided, stick to the plan to avoid further conflict.
Hurley also reminds couples to manage their own expectations about what the holidays mean and how they should be celebrated. “Often, parents want to pass down the traditions that hold the happiest memories for them so that their children will get a peek into mom or dad’s childhood.” Instead of picking one tradition or celebration over another, consider celebrating a variety of traditions from both sides of the family, or even planning certain activities on an alternative day.
As for practicing two different religious beliefs within an interfaith marriage? Hurley says to not stress: “Kids have an incredible capacity to learn. It’s confusing when parents argue about which religion should be practiced or when parents don’t support one another in observing different holidays. Kids enjoy learning about their parents’ backgrounds and beliefs, and when parents make the effort to support one another’s beliefs and teach the children the core principles of both, it’s actually not that confusing. If anything, it teaches unity and understanding.”
Jill Simonian is a Parenting Lifestyle Contributor, appearing on CBS Los Angeles every Wednesday on News at 5pm and Friday mornings at 6:45am. Her personal blog is TheFabMom.com. Follow Jill on Twitter @jillsimonian and connect with her on Facebook.