Your Kids, Your Relatives, and Your Friends During the Holidays, part 1. 

It’s holiday time and you’re going to take your kids to a Thanksgiving or holiday event.  You may be staying over for a period of time.  What should you do to prepare them for some of the possible tension?  What should you do to prepare your family and friends to deal with your kids?  Here are some suggestions.

Let’s take an example to start the conversation.  Aunt Mary hates Aunt Beth.  They haven’t talked for years.  Sometimes it flares up into the open.  This year they’re both invited to the dinner.  And you’ve decided to take the kids and go.

So, ask yourself:  how old are my kids?  How socially sophisticated are they?  How do they handle tension or other people fighting?  If your children are old enough—and it’s not simply a question of chronological age—you should tell them that the two aunts don’t get along.  You should tell them the difference between hidden tension and overt anger or nastiness. Tell them in appropriate terms for their age level about what’s going on.  Tell them they don’t have to witness it and that if they feel uncomfortable to go to another room. That means you’ll have to scope out beforehand what’s available—other kids, TV, games, books, whatever they choose.  You also need to tell them to be respectful of their elders and not to get involved in any fights that might occur.

You should also make sure that your hosts know how to keep everyone civil and to provide options for the kids in terms of activities situated in other rooms.

You shouldn’t get into the family tensions, either. If the tension or fighting spills over to your children, make sure you stand up for them, and, if necessary, leave.  Holidays should be times of enjoyment, not tension or torture.  You are the adult and you have the responsibility to protect your kids.

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