Grandparents: Dealing With Holiday Stress

By Amy Zawistowski
National Committee of Grandparents for Children’s Rights

 Americans will celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas,  Kwanzaa, and New Year’s within the next month. That’s a lot of festivity and, for most of us, many chances to see friends and family. But all that holiday togetherness isn’t always easy. There’s the stress of dealing with family issues, which are further complicated for those raising a grandchild. While each situation and relationship issues are different, here is advice to help you make the holiday’s less stressful and special for not only your grandchildren, but for yourself as well.

The holiday’s present many opportunities to bond with family, but this time of year can present significant stress, particularly when family conflict arises. Some conflict can come from having to decide which relatives to see, if any. Here are some ways to divide up your time over the holidays and handle conflicts and holiday stress that may arise.

  1. Take Turns with Relatives. It can be stressful deciding who to see, and when. Taking turns is an easy solution. If you see one group in November, see the other in December, or alternate years. Then you can eventually see everybody.
  2. Host Celebrations At Your House. If the stress of traveling each year is more than you’d like to handle, you may want to have family over to your home for the holidays. This is also a good solution when you have too many groups or relatives to take turns seeing: invite everyone to celebrate together, and you will get to see everyone more often. While this won’t work in every situation, it can build bonds between groups of relatives that may not know one another very well.
  3. Be Prepared For Some Conflict. If you usually have conflict when you get together with your family, it’s a good idea to be prepared for it. Approach the situation with a sense of realism, have a sense of humor about it and remind yourself what you love about everyone.
  4. Just Say No. If seeing family causes you great amounts of stress each year, it’s OK to say no sometimes. Celebrating with just your partner or grandkids can be a wonderful alternative to seeing people who make you feel consistently stressed.
  5. Surround Yourself with Friends. Many a happy holiday has been formed by groups of people who have decided to celebrate with friends instead of family. Whether you’re unable to travel (or have family who is), celebrating with other people you know who are also without family for the day can be a great way to bond with friends and enjoy the spirit of the season.

Whatever you do and chose to spend your holidays with, make sure to take time for yourself and enjoy the special moments with your loved ones.

 Special Holiday Edition! Submit your favorite holiday moment or tradition to be featured in the December 15, 2012 eNewsletter. Send no more than 100 words to azawistowski@gradparentsforchildren.org.

 

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