Dreading Christmas? Part 10


Planning A Successful Christmas: CREATING BOUNDARIES

Many parents have significant expectations of their children, particularly around being with them for Christmas day. As a grown up child, this is easier when single, but as soon as you have a partner there are two sets of parents to satisfy!



Emotional blackmail, unfavourable comparisons with your siblings, tantrums and sulks are all common approaches from parents and children who want their own way.

At a practical level it is easy to identify a number of potential solutions. Each one of them requires you to set your boundaries out for all concerned in a loving and assertive way.

Achieving a successful outcome with as little drama as possible

To achieve a successful outcome it is important that you handle the situation with thought and care. Setting things out clearly, without getting het up, and as early as possible makes things easier to handle.

If you enjoying being with the whole extended family, if they enjoy being together too, and if you have the room and the budget to invite everyone then a big family Christmas is a nice solution.

Where a big family gathering isn’t your thing, or it simply isn’t possible, negotiating a Christmas pattern can be helpful.


  1. Alternate years between you and your partner’s parents. This approach is very common, and most parents can see the logic and fairness in it.
  2. Many people would like to spend Christmas with just their partner or immediate family or off on holiday. It is here that negotiating a three year or even five year cycle can work really well. Year 1 with her parents, Year 2 with his, Year 3 “just us”, and so on.
  3. Creating a Christmas celebration on a different day is also a good alternative.

It isn’t the arrangement that is the important message, but that you take control of your own life and state what you would like to happen. Make sure you do this well in advance so people have time to come to terms with your decisions and make changes to their own plans.

Reassuring those who are disappointed by your absence that you love them, and that you will make the effort to see them around Christmas goes a long way to soften the blow.

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