Parenting during the holidays

Your Family
Parenting during the holidays

The holidays can be an exciting yet stressful time. In a house full of family, there can be unsolicited opinions regarding your parenting style, especially if you've been trying something new. Many parents report stress when family members question their parenting skills. Here are some tips to stay consistent with your parenting techniques:

  • Tip #1: Prepare. If you're feeling concerned that your new parenting style may not be embraced, talk your concerns through with a trusted family member or friend. Role-playing is especially helpful. Ask your partner to play the role of the family member who is not respecting boundaries (for example, have him say, "Come on, let Jonathan have an extra dessert - he's getting upset, and everyone else is allowed,") and practice how you would respond. Saying the words out loud is more helpful than simply thinking it through. 
  • Tip #2: Set ground rules then follow through. Before you walk into a holiday gathering, remind your children of your expectations. This might include the amount of time they can spend using electronics, bedtime rules or the number of sweets they can consume. For example, calmly yet firmly say, "I know grandma makes great chocolate cake, but you are only allowed to have one piece."
  • Tip #3: Enlist an ally. It's helpful to find a teammate or ally who will help support your cause and keep you on track. This could be your partner, spouse or any other family member who respects any behavioral modifications you have been making within your family. The ally can support you verbally, non-verbally or emotionally if someone else in the gathering tries to interfere with your plan. 
  • Tip 4: Remain calm. If you feel challenged or "put on the spot," remember to always remain calm. If you respond by raising your voice, using sarcasm or snide remarks, your perspective is less likely to be heard. Use the same technique you would when speaking to your child; speak slowly and in a direct but firm way while remaining polite. 

Remember that you're not alone - the holidays are both stressful and exciting for most people. Keep an eye on your long term parenting goals and focus on the positive aspects of family gatherings...you can always vent or process later.