|Sources and Story Ideas for the Holidays|
"Santa Claus is Kind of Broke This Year": Talking to Kids About Job Loss and the Recession
Kristen Lucas, assistant professor of Communication Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has been interviewing men and women who grew up in blue-collar families during the 1980 recession about how families communicated about layoffs and job loss. Family members shared the messages that helped them ease the stigma associated with job loss, build resilience, and shape their careers.
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Yours, Mine, and Ours: How Today's Complex Families Negotiate the Holidays
How do families integrate relationships formed by cohabitation, nonmarital childbearing and same-sex families, both inter-generationally and laterally, into their holiday rituals?
Pamela J. Smock, Professor of Sociology
Not Home for the Holidays
For parents who are estranged from their adult children, the holidays are an especially painful reminder that they won't be sharing them with the people they care about the most.
Joshua Coleman, psychologist and author of, WHEN PARENTS HURT: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don't Get Along
Stepfamilies & Holidays
How do stepfamilies deal with routines and traditions from their original families when they become a stepfamily? What challenges do they face? How can parents and stepparents help the family adjust their holiday rituals?
Dawn O. Braithwaite
How to Keep Your Sex Life Alive during Hard Economic Times and Holiday Stress
The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Gender Traps and the Holidays
From remembering who to put on the holiday card list, to resolving work/family conflicts, to producing the perfect holiday meal, and a million other holiday related tasks, holidays offer a lot of challenges for women caught up by gender traps. In this case there are huge family and social expectations that trap women-and men-into doing the same old stuff that makes them a little extra stressed out at holiday time. Framingham State College sociologist Virginia Rutter reminds us that holidays can be more fun when holiday traditions don't include gender traps.
What do we make of it all-at home and out in the world-when everything says Christmas, but that isn't what we do in our family?
Barbara J. Risman, Professor and Head
Growing numbers of divorced couples have begun to cooperate in celebrating family holidays, with binuclear families sharing the holiday dinner or ex'es and new partners joining together for holiday dinners. How does this work?
Nearly 14 million Americans are in long-distance relationships and there has been a 30% increase in commuter marriages in six years. How can couples and families harness today's digital technology for better instead of worse? Get tips for couples who are reuniting for the holidays after long absences, and for couples who must spend the holidays apart.
Stephanie Coontz, history and family studies professor at The Evergreen State College, can discuss how holiday celebrations have changed over American history. Until the mid-19th century, the most popular holiday celebrations revolved around civic occasions, not private family occasions. Christmas was a time for visiting with neighbors, not staying home with family. In this time of economic stress, modern families might consider reviving some of the communal traditions of the past and inventing new ones to cope with our current challenges
How do multicultural family members or relationship partners reconcile their holiday rituals (routines and traditions) from their original cultures and in their multicultural family?
Jordan Soliz, Assistant Professor
The impact of peer cultures on children's consumer desires and self esteem; how and why families buy for children, even when they are under financial strain. Pugh can address the tremendous pressures that lower-income parents feel to provide their children with status-symbol consumer items and what kind of steps schools can take/are taking to minimize competitive materialism among students.
Allison Pugh, Assistant Professor
Learn some handy cocktail party statistics and a few clever answers to relatives that you can use when they ask you when you're going to get married (and other personal questions) at holiday family gatherings.
Bella DePaulo, author of Singled Out, can discuss holiday experiences from the perspectives of people who are single. Changes in the demographic face of the nation, such as the increase in the number of single people and the decrease in the size of families, mean that holiday celebrations are changing, too. DePaulo can comment on the importance of friends in Americans' lives, and the joys of solitude as well as sociability.
This year hard times, some personal, some public, are creating challenges for many families. Some suggestions for helping families cope.
Ellen Pulleyblank Coffey
Adam Pertman, Executive Director
Family Storytelling at the Holidays
How different stories affect and reflect family health, well-being, and satisfaction
Jody Koenig Kellas, Assistant Professor
Pauline Boss, family therapist and author of Loss, Trauma and Resilience, can address how individuals and families can handle the absence of loved ones over the holidays, whether due to death, displacement, or deployment in places like Iraq.
Kathleen Gerson, Professor of Sociology at NYU and co-author of "The Time Divide: Work, Family, and Gender Inequality," can speak about the ways that the holidays intensify work-family conflicts and add additional pressures to the already crowded schedules of employed parents, and especially mothers. She can also discuss the strategies families use to cope with these pressures as well as how these strategies have changed with the rise of dual-earning couples and single-parent families.
Joan Williams, Director of WorkLife Law at the Hastings School of Law, can address the way that work-family stresses mount over the holidays, as the kids have school vacation but parents have to work.
Margo Maine specializes in eating disorders and notes that the holiday season (starting with Halloween, but becoming very intense between Thanksgiving and Christmas through the new year) is extremely stressful for people with eating disorders. In addition to producing conflicted feelings about all the food and feasts around them, the holidays intensify feelings of isolation and depression for many people with eating disorders. Social gatherings also bring up issues about clothes and appearance.
Mignon R. Moore specializes in nontraditional family forms and is writing a book about how family is constructed in same-sex unions and how extended family relationships are maintained when adult children are lesbian/gay. These issues can become more salient during the holiday season as parents and kin are forced to openly deal with an adult child or relative's gay identity and the presence of their partner during family gatherings. People who are not "out" to family members often feel alienated during the holidays, or forge stronger friendship ties with other gay people to replace familial bonds.
Ruth Nemzoff, Bentley College Studies, can address how to mitigate tensions in planning for holidays, so both generations are clear on what is a command performance at events and what is optional. She also has ideas about how to create new holiday traditions to enhance family closeness.
Deborah Siegel, author of Only Child: Writers on the Singular Joys and Solitary Sorrows of Growing Up Solo, forthcoming Dec. 2006, can discuss managing the holidays when you are an only child. If you're married or in a relationship and without siblings, then whose family do you go to for holidays? A tricky situation anyway, but it means if you don't go to your parents' they're all alone. With increasing numbers of only children, more and more face this dilemma.
Carol Shapiro, Director of Family Justice, notes that more than 2.5 million children have one or both parents incarcerated. She can discuss the holiday issues confronting families with incarcerated parents
How fathers and adult daughters can be more comfortable together, heal old wounds, and strengthen their relationship during the holidays.
If this is a holiday, why are we working so hard?
Why is it that the holidays generate so much work for most adults when they are supposed to be a time of "joy and thanksgiving"? Between shopping, gift wrapping, holiday parties to attend, holiday parties to host, baking to do and not time to do it, how can people find time to enjoy the holidays and still meet their commitments?
Who Gets the Kids for the Holidays?
Joshua Coleman, psychologist
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