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Holiday Heartaches? Focus on Kids!

In our multicultural world, families look forward to many different holidays in the winter months. With varied family structures, parents struggle to meet the needs of everyone's traditions and faiths. Sometimes, competing interests of parents become the focus instead of the pleasure of the seasons.
11/16/2015 03:22pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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In our multicultural world, families look forward to many different holidays in the winter months. With varied family structures, parents struggle to meet the needs of everyone's traditions and faiths. Sometimes, competing interests of parents become the focus instead of the pleasure of the seasons.

How do you enjoy holidays without succumbing to the pressures to make them just right? Make them Child Focused!

Terrific Tips to Make Your Holidays Child-Focused

If the overall goal is to have our children enjoy the holidays and learn what they are all about, emotions settle down. Here are a few suggestions or options some families have tried with great success:

1. Limit Presents to Children and Teens.
Families who have tried this approach find the financial pressures diminish greatly and time spent online or in stores is cut down considerably. Children are generally not good shoppers for any length of time, so time with kids at home away from crowded stores is usually more beneficial than rushing them about while buying gifts for lots of adults.

2. Consider What Children Actually Eat.
While creating traditional meals, keep in mind what children actually eat.
Elaborate recipes sometimes carry out family traditions joyously, but other times they require hours of preparation that actually take parents away from their children and thus limit the fun of the holidays.

3. Divide Up Adult Jobs.
Some adults are just better at organizing shopping and cooking than others. The jobs naturally fall to them and sometimes they shoulder too much of the responsibilities. This leads to resentments among adults, again taking them away from the kids.

4. Involve Children in Preparations.
Granted when you throw kids into holiday preparations, things take much longer. But if you want your holidays to be child-centered, maybe the kids belong right in the midst of things. Children make wonderful cards, pictures, and decorations and enjoy feeling proud of their creations hanging all over their home. They treasure all the praise that brings and light up when the grown-ups enjoy what they've done.

How Kids Spend Time with their Parents

Often times there are many parents including biological parents, stepparents, adoptive parents, grandparents, and you know how complicated it can get. Children are often a part of more than one family. So lots of decisions about where the kids will spend holidays or different parts of the holidays cause stress, resentment, and confusion among the adults. Here are a few things to think about if holidays are child-focused:

1. Kids know when parents hide their disagreements. They sense the tension even if they don't hear the words or see tempers flare.

2. Young children need parents to make decisions about when and where they should be, so they don't feel loyalty conflicts.

3. If parents live in different residences or even in different states or countries, daily Facetime and Skyping makes a big difference for kids who enjoy that kind of contact.

4. Kids need to sense that all the adults are happy to spend time with them wherever that may be. Find your own personal way of letting each child know how pleased you are to share the holiday with them.

5. In the midst of all the activity, try to get some alone time with each child during the holidays. Have some one-on-one conversations, lots of hugs, and tons of listening.

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Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst with a new book, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior, found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold.