Too Much Family Togetherness?

On every street corner at this time of year, I see small inter-generational huddles: grandparents, parents, and kids, together for the holidays.  Shopping for last minute presents, walking the neighborhood, stopping at the fudge shop on the corner. Everyone is bundled up, looking like colorful postcards of families happy to be together as Christmas inches closer.

But behind closed doors, and inside each person’s head, I know the snapshot gets a lot more…complicated.  The holidays bring us all together, and all this togetherness brings up a lot of parenting issues.  Especially since we parent so differently than most of our parents did. 

On Michel Martin’s “Tell Me More” show on NPR, I recently dug into the complexity facing parents today when multiple generations get a little too heavy a dose of togetherness

The issues on my side were always pretty heavy: my mom (now deceased) was an active alcoholic and my husband and I had to draw some extremely clear boundaries.  We had to explain to the kids when they were very young - under five - what alcoholism was, and why Grams acted so strangely sometimes.  Separately, my father was pretty much an an absentee grandfather, and we had to explain to our kids why he wasn’t around.