Dealing with adult children during the holidays

Once your children have grown to adulthood, they often set up their own traditions for the holidays. Respecting your adult children's new family during the holidays can sometimes be painful, but it is part of the growth process. This is even more important when you have grandchildren.

While it's natural to like one daughter-in-law or son-in-law more than another, you still must accept the person that your child married. You also need to treat all of your grandchildren equally. How much you may dislike one of the parents is not part of the equation. Try to balance your gift giving and special treats between all your children and grandchildren.

If you cannot tolerate an adult child's lifestyle or holiday behavior, limit your contact. You don't have to drop the holidays; just cut the areas where conflicts can occur. If having the entire family stay in your home is too much, find a way to politely let them know. You can suggest a low-cost alternative for lodging.

Avoid criticizing your children's parenting techniques. The holidays are not the right time for meddling. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that your children made it to adulthood. If things seem out of control, set a good example, and hopefully others will follow your lead.

Remember that your children will likely to feel pressure from a spouse's family. Don't make your children feel guilty if they can't spend time with you when you want. Try to arrange another date for your holiday celebration. You can let them know you miss them. Just don't overdo it.

Many families trade holidays. For example your son may spend Thanksgiving with his wife and kids at her parents' house and spend Christmas at yours. Don't be afraid to negotiate and remember the grandchildren before setting an ultimatum.

If you can't spend any time with family during the holidays, arrange to do something else for your happiness. Have a get-together with friends or volunteer at your local homeless shelter. Don't let the holiday season to depress you. If you feel overwhelmed, seek help.

For psychiatrists in your area, check out Angie's List, where you can read through other members' experiences with mental health professionals. For instance, you'll find more than 50 top-rated psychiatrists in Atlanta on Angie's List.

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