Family peace might be right up there with that eternal wish for “world peace.” It certainly seems that way, at least, within the dynamics of many families. Families with troubled teens know family peace might be a fleeting desire. They shouldn’t give up, however. There are a few ways to create family peace—and with the holidays fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to give them a try.
Erase the Image of the Perfect Family Holiday
This might be the hardest step on the rung toward family peace, but without it, the following ideas can’t be successfully implemented. Parents must dismiss their need for the “perfect family holiday.” Here’s something the happiest families have discovered: Perfect is relative. Don’t picture those images of old where the family arrives home to home-baked cookies, meaningful conversations, and tossing the football in the yard. Sure, some of these components play out in some families, but a Hallmark movie they’re not. Keep expectations to a minimum, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you witness even the most sporadic harmony.
Create New Traditions
Traditions are great—but making new ones is even better. If you get eye rolls from your teens—especially those who are giving you trouble at the moment—consider making new traditions instead. Build something based on the present needs of your troubled teen. If he/she doesn’t enjoy taking part in decorating, making cookies, welcoming out of town family members to your home, allow them to opt out. Instead plan an activity around something he finds meaningful. Make his favorite snacks while he and a friend or sibling engage in a video game contest. Make sure at least some of the family members stick around and cheer the opponents on. Buy a big puzzle—maybe even a 3-D version—one that everyone can assemble together. This can even be done a few minutes here and there, and doesn’t have to be done together. The idea of completing it as a family is the important part. It displays camaraderie even during difficulties.
Focus on Helping Others During the Holidays
Focus on others instead of the difficulties within your own family. Consider spending a day serving a meal at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Collect mittens and hats for needy children. Sponsor a local family in need and gather food and supplies as a family to donate to them.
There’s no easy answer to achieving family peace. But these steps should help you nudge a bit closer to that ideal. Flexibility and smaller expectations really are key. You might be surprised at the outcome.