This topic is for paid for discussions. Please mail us at insight@mumsnet.com if you'd like to know more about how they work.

How do you manage family conflict at Christmas? Share your comment to generate a £2 donation to Railway Children from Aviva

(51 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 19-Nov-13 10:30:34

The team at Railway Children say "Christmas is a time that many of us look forward to throughout the year as a chance to get together and spend quality time with the family. However, even for those of us who are lucky enough to have supportive and loving families, Christmas can still be a time of stress, which can lead to family conflict.

Financial pressures, requests for elaborate presents and the need to allocate time to visit family and friends can lead to increases in family conflict at a time at which we want to create a scene of perfect togetherness.

Sometimes it is difficult to shield our children from the pressures that we are under at this time of year. Given that research* shows that there is a link between family conflict and children running away from home, we would like to know"...

~ What are the biggest pressures on your family at Christmas time?

~ How do you protect your children from the stresses and strains of the Christmas period?

~ How do you diffuse family conflict when it arises?

Leave a comment below and for every quality response (up to a maximum of 3 per user), Aviva will donate £2 to Railway Children to support the work they do. Please note a donation will only be triggered for each post with MNer own thoughts / comments in - you can't just do blank posts or a few words: the donation is designed to encourage discussion

thanks, MNHQ

* Railway Children: 'Reach' - A new model of intervention for children before, during and after they run away (2012) Still Running 3 (2011), The Children’s Society

IAlwaysThought Wed 20-Nov-13 00:30:12

~ What are the biggest pressures on your family at Christmas time?

Cabin fever! If the weather is bad and it is difficult to get outside then everyone can go a bit stir crazy

~ How do you protect your children from the stresses and strains of the Christmas period?

We have fairly quiet Christmases as we have small extended families. It usually means that Christmas is quite relaxed. My DCs are older now and are working hard at college and university. I like to spoil them over Christmas. The DCs who come home from university really appreciate it. We keep extended family visits short and sweet. We also split up so everyone gets some space. We also try and do some type of sport together most days. Our kids are older but they and ourselves still benefit from a daily 'run'

~ How do you diffuse family conflict when it arises?

^We do argue in our house but not overly so. If any of us row we tend to joke about it later and we are all pretty good at not lingering over things.
If there is an atmosphere we do something like putting on a good movie or going out for a walk. None of it rocket science but it works for us^

MaddAddam Wed 20-Nov-13 14:24:05

What are the biggest pressures on your family at Christmas time?

The most stressful aspect of Christmas for me (and for DP) is the thought of having to see my parents.

~ How do you protect your children from the stresses and strains of the Christmas period?

Basically by only seeing my parents at Christmas every few years. Which can be tricky as they want to see us and push to see us more.

~ How do you diffuse family conflict when it arises?

We're probably not supposed to say WINE on this thread but I do find it helps us chill out and not stress the small stuff. In general, if my parents aren't there, there is so much less conflict that we're all just happy.

Onesleeptillwembley Wed 20-Nov-13 18:53:42

Biggest pressure? None really.
Protect kids by just not having pressure. We have always made it plain that we do our Christmas our way. That means staying at home with the kids. My parents took me to family almost every year, I hated it.
Diffuse pressure? Don't get it. We do it our way and that's that.

Oblomov Wed 20-Nov-13 19:07:57

No pressure.
Dh is one of 6. Ds's have 12 cousins. We have a huge family party, a week before Christmas. We all contribute food. Tis lovely.
This leaves us at home, the 4 of us on Christmas Day. Presents. Roast. Fab.
We visit both our mums in the 4 or do days between Christmas and new year.

Where is the stress?
Have a glass of wine wink

CMOTDibbler Wed 20-Nov-13 19:18:47

Biggest pressure - trying to balance the needs of my very frail parents (80 miles away), what the PIL want (30 miles away, 5 GC who are 17+ and our ds who is 7), and our very precious time off together.

Protect children - by being honest with him. Theres no point in him doing a big christmas list when theres only 3 people buying for him. We've also talked about how grandma might refuse to eat anything, or spit it out at christmas lunch (she has dementia).

Diffuse pressure. We manage what we can. So our presents to each other at home, then drive to my parents to cook them lunch, then back home for lush dessert only buffet tea. PIL would like their boxing day to be an all day thing (turn up at 10, all over 16s except me go to the pub from 11.30 till 2, dinner at 3 till 6, so on), but we now 'have to see the hunt go off' so don't go till 1. Still working on trying to get the other gc to play with ds or watch something appropriate for him though

DurhamDurham Wed 20-Nov-13 19:33:29

Don't spend too much time with extended family, ensure visits have an end time so that it doesn't drag on.
Don't offer to do something (ie host a Boxing Day lunch) and then moan about it constantly, just don't offer in the first place....mum I'm looking at you!!
Don't enter into a competition about the biggest presents, most presents, expensive presents. Just buy what you like within your budget, people who matter will appreciate it.
Don't get into debt, you won't enjoy the day if you know you will be paying it off for the next 12 months.

VikingLady Wed 20-Nov-13 19:50:09

Biggest pressures? Money and a toxic MIL.
That doesn't affect DD much yet as she is not quite 2, though she does pick up on the tension with MIL. She's on edge around her and not her usual happy self.
What do we do about it? Money - we started prepping for Christmas a few months ago, buying as and when, mainly clearance items. MIL - that is trickier. We're not in a position to cut contact yet, if ever, so we minimise time with her and keep her on her best behaviour - she's being diluted with guests she doesn't know well! She'll be so keen to impress strangers that hopefully she'll leave us alone. If not I'll break out the wine We've arranged to have her visit as briefly as possible and she's nervous of driving in the dark, so will leave early. Thank god. Then we'll have Christmas!

~What are the biggest pressures on your family at Christmas time?

My parents are total perfectionists and have completely unrealistic expectations of my DS (4)

~ How do you protect your children from the stresses and strains of the Christmas period?

Stay only 2 nights, give lots of cuddles and reassurance.

~ How do you diffuse family conflict when it arises?

Smile and nod, smile and nod, rant to friends once it's all over.

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 20-Nov-13 20:27:18

I think just having a Christmas period with me DH and the DC covers all of the above. We don't see extended family at all which solves everything!

mercibucket Wed 20-Nov-13 21:38:11

nowadays we have a nice little routine going: presents breakfast church lunch telly
main stress is making toys eg playmobil so I try to do that beforehand
kids get v overexcited which causes stress but I am not sure what the answer is to this
we don't do a big thing over xmas like family meal for wider family on a special day, just get togethers as and when
it is hard fitting all the visits in though

ShreddedHoops Wed 20-Nov-13 21:59:21

Er, with difficulty?!

I become the child myself at Christmas... I regress to fulfilling my mum's low expectations of me, and bickering with my siblings. I will aim to shield DS (2) from it all this year by basically using him to hide behind. He's a perfect little angel so mum can lay off me - I can't be all bad to have produced him smile

In future years, I don't know. I don't want to reject my family but also I don't want to put any of us in a stressful situation. I will probably aim to avoid big family Christmases and do it our way, which will be entirely child centred and pressure free. I enjoy cooking so no stress there. Actually take my own extended family out of the equation and I can't see any potential for stress. wine to survive this year then hmm

Idespair Wed 20-Nov-13 22:07:30

You prevent pressure before it happens by making arrangements well in advance and sticking to them. If you are proactive in making the arrangements (to visit family etc), they are more likely to be on your terms.

There is pressure to see a particular relative who ignores us the entire year but wants to play happy families at Christmas and he likes to try to make arrangements on 23rd December and demand that everyone does what he wants. Given that families are tied to other families via inlaws etc, he wants to disrupt arrangements which about 10 interlinked families have carefully fixed! I just say no and don't let my kids know.

Another pair of relatives don't get on with eachother but are both fine with us. Again my kids have no idea about this.

I suppose you resolve conflict by thinking to yourself what is the best case scenario and also what is your "bottom line" you are willing to compromise down to. Then you negotiate with this in mind and if your bottom line is breached, the answer is no.

custardo Wed 20-Nov-13 22:09:53

extended family make christmas miserable

after years of misery and a totally shit christmas that takes the biscuit

I decided to not invite them.

there is now no stress

ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor Thu 21-Nov-13 00:35:05

~ What are the biggest pressures on your family at Christmas time?

The children are very overexcited and the adults under a fair bit of stress and time pressure, and when you add in family that we don't see often who want a lot fo our time and energy, it all gets a bit too much

~ How do you protect your children from the stresses and strains of the Christmas period?

In the lead up we avoid tv channels with adverts as it adds to the 'I want' outpouring (not big telly watchers anyway). I try to say NO to plenty of excursions, lunches, events etc. so we have enough quiet time that everyone doesn't get exhausted.

~ How do you diffuse family conflict when it arises?

We try our best to avoid it by giving everyone enough time and space alone (relatively, DD is only 2) that we don't start wanting to kill each other. The adults are expected to grit their teeth and just get on, the children's issues are dealt with in the same way as usual, but getting enough sleep and not too much crap to eat are helpful.

Pogosticks Thu 21-Nov-13 06:15:30

Biggest stress: the fact that DH is working for most of Advent, Christmas and New Year. So we would like to see family, who are scattered far and wide, but have had to decline most family get togethers.
How we protect children: they don't get stressed about Christmas - we don't have a family that rows - and DC take everything in their stride anyway.
Diffusing family conflict: luckily only 2 people in our family that ever cause any... We see them as little as possible and do a lot of tongue biting!

Btw I have had life insurance with Aviva for years and just insured our car with you, you are the only insurance company I've ever dealt with that hasn't been a total pita so thank you and happy Christmas!

Hopezibah Thu 21-Nov-13 22:19:14

I think everyones hopes and expectations of the perfect Christmas sets us up for failure from the start and puts pressure on us. usually from ourselves.

I would just say to try to keep things in perspective and just be glad for little things going well. Try not to please everyone - just make sure your family and kids needs are met as best you can.

ViviDeBeauvoir Fri 22-Nov-13 00:06:41

Another one just planning on Christmas with my DC. They are all 4 and under so their will be no expectations about presents etc. we can spend the day playing family games and snuggled up watching films. Now DD is at school it'll just be lovely to have them all here over the Christmas period. and not have to get up for the school run

LESuffolk Fri 22-Nov-13 18:23:06

All I can 'control' is my reaction and to a certain extent the emotional temperature of our home. I have no control over bad behaviour by my ex even though our children are now adults. All we can do is comfort them if and when they are upset by stupidity of other adults who should know better. That is the only thorn in our side. I know we are lucky that this is all we can complain about.

Having simple, non negotiable traditions that the children (and us) look forward to helps make the day something we all very much look forward to and more importantly, not a let down. Keeping things sensible-no hysterical build up means we can avoid that post Christmas slump. We love amassing on our bed for Stocking opening; the ritual recipe choosing for family breakfast and the communal board games. Watching Christmas films from early December is an inexpensive way to feel seasonal without spending loads of cash.

We don't bicker because there is really nothing to bicker over. Christmas lunch is only a roast dinner. I never read all those over the top Christmas dining/recipe/decorating features in papers/magazines. They are ludicrous. It is a roast dinner. We have a starter and the pudding that my DH makes in October. We have Creme De Menthe Roulade too which we have done now for twenty years. Nothing too new is wanted at Christmas. What binds us together as a family are the things that cost little or nothing, not a load of hysterical commercial hype.

gazzalw Fri 22-Nov-13 19:07:40

What are the biggest pressures on your family at Christmas time?

Yes to cabin fever and just being at home 24/7 for a few days....

'Boredom' from the children even with a whole stack of new pressies/games etc....

The children getting slothful and not wanting to go out in the cold....

~ How do you protect your children from the stresses and strains of the Christmas period?

Trying to give them lots of activities to undertake in the lead-up to Christmas so they don't get over-excited!

~ How do you diffuse family conflict when it arises?

Divide and rule..... one child one parent different activities and time out to do things

SunshinePanda Fri 22-Nov-13 19:22:54

We decide early what we are going to do at Christmas and tend to go for the easiest option, which is keeping my parents happy!
No real stresses for my DC. DD suggested to her friends to do secret Santa last year as teenage gift buying was getting out of hand.
To diffuse conflict we tend to talk things through, negotiate and give space. Try to use humour where possible as well.

moomoo1967 Fri 22-Nov-13 19:37:34

I guess I'm lucky in that I don't class Xmas as a pressured time. All my family live more than 100 miles away and I don't drive so we stay at home. It's lovely in that my daughter and get up when we want, eat what we want and watch what we want on TV. No cabin fever we don't get time to, we both have our own friends and it's good to spend some quality time together. So no stresses and strains and the only family conflict is what to watch on TV, so we take it in turns

mercibucket Fri 22-Nov-13 20:13:15

I don't remember Christmas as a time of particular conflict as a child either tbh . maybe I was distracted by all the presents! summer holidays were far worse.
one thing I am doing this year is doing less - so theatre etc is happening in jan or feb rather than all crammed in over a few days
we are ok for money right now. I think that makes a big difference. if I lost my job next xmas would be more of a strain and I know we would argue more

GoingGoingToGallifrey Fri 22-Nov-13 22:52:10

What are the biggest pressures on your family at Christmas time?

Cabin pressure, there are only 3 of us, but we as don't have central heating, only our lounge is warm in the day.

How do you protect your children from the stresses and strains of the Christmas period?

Try to go into it not attempting a 'perfect Christmas', we live away from out families, so no longer have to do family visits. We see it as a chance for DD to relax away from school, and for us to enjoy being a family.

We go for a walk/bike ride daily (to avoid the claustrophobia) whatever the weather. We are lucky as we live next to a park with a big glasshouse & cafe, so can go see the animals/have a coffee out of the house. Regular trips to the library are good as we are all readers.

How do you diffuse family conflict when it arises?

Moving away from the in-laws helped me grin

For the 3 of us, we try to give each other space, to prevent arguments.
But when it does happen? That's the difficulty, we are all strong characters with definate opinions. DH & I try to set a good example to DD, and try to show respect to each other doesn't always happen

CaptChaos Sat 23-Nov-13 00:54:50

~ What are the biggest pressures on your family at Christmas time?

My toxic mother, always plays the 'poor me' card, MiL is very over enthusiastic about the whole thing. DS is autistic, so Christmas is difficult enough for him!

~ How do you protect your children from the stresses and strains of the Christmas period?

We make a point of having a very low key day, just us, maybe a friend or 2 who would be alone, everything is very calm and easy going. We have dinner which I cook, while everyone does their bit, it's not very formal, but the food is something everyone enjoys. Presents are kept to a minimum, nothing too expensive, nothing to showy, we also go for a long walk with the dogs, which gets us out of the house every day

~ How do you diffuse family conflict when it arises?

We talk. One of the major reasons I ran away was that I was never allowed any 'negative' emotions, it took a long time for me to understand that anger, sadness etc all have their place, and, if not dealt with appropriately, fester and damage people, so we talk. We don't yell, or shout, we don't belittle or invalidate, we all know how much we love each other because we're open about our feelings. Good communication is key to good relationships.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now