Keeping the Family Together and the Mood Positive During the Holidays

The family schedule is often a busy one, and more so during the holidays. Parents often find themselves shuffling the kids to one room while they have "big people conversations" about "big people stuff." If the spirit of the holidays is inspired by togetherness, then it seems a bit counterproductive to divide the family along generational lines. Victoria Peeples, assistant professor of human development and family studies at The University of Alabama, has advice for keeping the family together and entertained during the holiday season.

"The holiday season is the perfect time for families to show care, love and appreciation," advises Peeples.

Telling stories involving senior members of the family is a good way to give the kids a sense of history and understand those relatives they see less often than others.

"Children and adolescents build their life stories when they share their experiences, hear relatives reveal personal memories, and understand the ties that hold families together," says Peeples. "Knowing Grandpa picked up Grandma on a motorcycle for their first date exposes how adventurous they were in their early years."

Other stories remind all generations of the family just how strong their bonds have become over time. Remembering the time Aunt Maureen and Aunt Karen rescued Aunt Vicki when she fell through the ice, conjures memories for everyone in the room. When younger family members retell those stories, they add to the family lore. Remember to pull out the photo album or old home movies, and take a stroll down memory lane.

As always, try to keep the mood positive. The kids are watching you, and they have a knack for picking up nonverbal cues.

"Children follow their parents' lead," reminds Peeples. "Parents who get stressed out trying to build the perfect holiday pass along their stress to their kids."

Most important and perhaps the easiest advice of all—small gestures matter. Those little details actually show a great deal of consideration, and they give the kids activities to enjoy.

"Encourage children and teens to make homemade cards to send to grandparents," Peeples recommends. "If family is visiting for the holidays, have kids make welcome signs or place a fresh flower by Grandma's bedside. These small gestures show care, love and appreciation."