From Dr. Jane's Notebook

The Family Tug-of-War

When it comes to holiday stress, most families worry about the cost of gifts, travel, and other holiday concerns. But for some families, an even greater source of holiday stress lies in dreaded confrontations between family members who don’t get along too well. Few stressors come close to the emotional pain associated with unfriendly family relationships.

This article has been written at the request of mothers and daughters-in-law who are in the process of learning how to establish and maintain a mutually respectful relationship. In some cases, relationships by marriage have gotten off to a rocky start and are in desperate need of a little repair. Fortunately, the holidays offer great opportunities for mending broken relationships and healing old wounds. When it comes to getting along with in-laws, here are a few thoughts on the matter.

As children grow up, family involvement becomes more and more voluntary, so family involvement must also become more and more inviting. In each generation, the entire future of the family is at stake. To avoid a breakdown in the family network, family members must actively treat each other with love and respect, and develop an appreciation for the unique way in which each succeeding generation will reinvent and create their own family traditions.

The holidays are an important time for families to gather together in a spirit of love and sharing. As families grow, our children and grandchildren observe the quality of family relations, and either accept or reject those relationships. While the holidays in particular cause us to pay special attention to the state of the family, we are also reminded that family ties must be nurtured year ‘round. This year as you consider your holiday gift list, remember that the best gifts are those which draw families closer to each other. In many cases, these are the gifts which cost us very little money, but which are priceless.

ęCopyright, 2000, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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