Parenting dilemma: Should I work so hard to get my family together for the holidays?

Dilemma: My brothers and I lost our parents at a very young age. As the only girl, I took on mom’s role of trying to keep the family together. Now that we have our own families, I feel that I’m always pushing everybody to be together and I think, in reality, nobody really cares. I want our kids to grow up together, but everything is one sided. Should I let it go and just worry about my own kids?

Every Friday at 8:10 p.m., readers meet on the Chicago Parent Facebook page to help solve parenting dilemmas. 

“Keep it open. Make it simple. Family will always find their way home.” — Lisa B.

“I would still continue to invite them, but also, not become discouraged if they don’t. Plan some things to do with ONLY your family as well instead of focusing on EVERYONE’S family. It’s hard, but with regular conversations, sleepovers with cousins and other things during off seasons, you’ll still have quite the closeness that you want.” — Natasha N.

“The most important thing is that you don’t let it interfere with the memories your children are building of the holidays. If you are distracted by all of that, they’ll sense it.” — Lisa H.

“Keeping the siblings and their families together after the parents have passed is important. Your kids need to know something about their grandparents and it is helpful if they get to experience the memories of their aunts and uncles. On the other hand, your siblings are hurting in their own way and they may want to move past those memories. All in all, worth the effort, but not if it stresses everyone out.” — Walter B.

“My husband lost his mom at a young age, 15. With his family we make sure to all get together at least twice a year. Anything above that is not expected from everybody. Once it was said aloud to us how important it was to the oldest sister that everyone come at least twice it was much better.” — Beckie K.

“Keep the invites open! Plan some things with your family exclusively and some with the entire family. It will work itself out eventually.” — Wanda T.

“Have you ever talked to them about your feelings? Maybe they don’t even realize that they are acting a certain way and don’t know you feel like that. Once it’s out there and if they still don’t want to try, then I probably wouldn’t try so hard either.” — Jenny M.

“Lower expectations make things so much easier. Put the offer out there and if they come, they come. You might be surprised. No one likes to be guilted and it just makes relationships a struggle. Once it is on their terms you might be surprised.” — Katie D.

“Let all the controversy go. Simply stop. Seek a way to let any bad feelings go. Be together because you are family.” — Donna M.

“You can only control your own actions. Just always leave the door open and don’t write them off. The ball will be in their court. What they do with it is their choice.” — Kathleen S.”

My family has split up since my parents died. I have been much happier since I quit having expectations of my siblings and focused on my own family. I don’t believe in trying to force a relationship.” — Anne G.

“Keep fighting the good fight! Family is worth it. Have you let them know how important they are to you?” — Kari H.

“Whatever the source of contention, it is a dilemma that is perpetuating a new silent tragedy of our socially networked but all too often interpersonally awkward society that affects even the best of us today. … My best advice is to find actionable ways of showing love. But do it without compromising your own ideas of strong family values.” — Brad K.


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This article originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue.  

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