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Holiday Shuffle

Question

This question is regarding the upcoming Christmas season and how to handle my mom and my in-laws. My husband and I have disagreements about how to handle both of our families during this time of year. I am the only child to a single mom, who basically has no one other than me, her ailing mother (my grandma, whom I'm very close to), and our 18-month-old daughter. My husband grew up in a very traditional house - mom, dad, sister and two dogs.

We've been married for 6 years. My MIL doles out dozens of gifts to me, my husband, BIL and SIL and the two grandkids. I have asked that a limit be set for gifts, even for children because I do not agree with over-indulgence, even at Christmas time, but my MIL usually disregards my requests and does it however she wants.

We've had to keep the same tradition of going to my in-law's house every Christmas morning since we've been married. My mom feels very left out and like she does not matter because she is unable to buy the way my MIL does. She gets angry because we spend the majority of Christmas day with the in-laws and my mom gets the "leftovers."

My husband is very close to his mother and feels that since it's always been this way then it should stay that way. Every year at Christmas this affects us and the temperament in our home, which I know that our daughter can pick up on or will eventually pick up on.

I simply want things to be fair when it comes to spending the holidays with family and not always be "one sided," but I'm the one who is always caught in the middle.

I realize this is not exactly a parenting question, but I really do not know anyone in my situation to turn to and it's causing me a lot of grief during this time of year so any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks.

Answer

Hello, and thank you for asking a question that many married couples have had. There are some things you can do to ease the stress, and some things you just can't, or shouldn't try, to change, such as your mother-in-law's propensity to over-gift the family.

I see two possible solutions, and your husband will have to be on board with either one. The first is to include your family in the morning's fun. If it's not feasible for your mom and grandmother to be there, then this is the year you can begin a new tradition! Decide that every year you will rotate between Christmas morning with your in-laws, and Christmas morning with your mom and grandmother. If any of the people involved object, do not engage in explanations or arguments, except to say that this arrangement works best for you, your husband and your daughter.

Wishing you the blessings of the season, and peace in your family!

Warmly,
Wendy Faucett
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
wendyfaucett@gmail.com
Facebook: Love & Leadership Parent Coaching

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