University of Illinois Extension

Holidays with Extended Family

Amy Griswold, Family Life Educator

The holiday season is often stressful for families, trying to please all the relatives and make sure we include everyone. For non-traditional families, like yours with grandchildren, the holidays can be even more complicated.

How do you celebrate a special occasion when family members might not be on speaking terms, or when they're in constant conflict?

According to author Sally Houtman, the one simple rule that might help is to, "Do that which you will not regret."

This means doing what you think is right and not necessarily what seems to be most comfortable. Sometimes this will mean putting your own resentments and personal differences aside and simply doing what is right for the children.

You will never be able to please everyone, but it is not your responsibility to make sure all the relatives are happy.

Focus your decisions on what is right and not on keeping peace or pleasing family members. When facing these decisions, don't let your own anger or resentments bias your decisions.

If you fail to invite the child's parent or another family member because of your own feelings, you may be punishing the child for something that is between two adults. On the other hand, don't go overboard with phony generosity - you may regret that as well.

It is possible to extend kindness to someone with whom we disagree, especially if the situation is for the good of the child.

When making your decisions, take into consideration any negative aspects, and base your choice on whether the child will benefit from the visit, social outing, or whatever the activity is. Weigh the positives and negatives, and do what is best for the child.