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TWU Professor Offers Advice On Avoiding Holiday Conflicts

Holiday Feature Story

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DENTON — The traditional images of Christmas show families gathered together, happily sharing the joys of the season. The preparations behind those picture-perfect moments can cause stress, however. The key to easing the tension, a Texas Woman’s University professor says, is communication.

Dr. Joyce Armstrong, associate professor of family sciences at TWU, said research on family strengths indicates that healthy families communicate in times of stress.

“Families need to carve out time in their schedules to talk about the holidays,” Armstrong said. “Take time to establish holiday goals and family goals. I encourage regular family meetings — they are a powerful way of communicating.”

It’s also important that each family member have a voice in the decision-making process, she said.

Deciding in advance how much to spend on holiday purchases — and sticking to that amount — can help prevent a common source of conflict. “Many families overextend (financially) during this time,” Armstrong said. “Experts say most people don’t pay off their credit card purchases until six months after the holiday.”

Current economic conditions may leave many families with less money to spend on gifts. Armstrong said parents should be open with their children about why there won’t be as many presents under the tree as there were last year.

“I believe many children will understand,” she said. “It’s often more difficult for parents to acknowledge (financial difficulties) than it is for children, because as parents, you want to give to your children.”

Armstrong said it’s important to teach children that the holidays are about more than getting presents.

“Things are temporal; toys wear out,” she said. “What most people remember about the holidays is the time spent with family and friends. That’s what they value. It doesn’t take money to build strong and healthy families. It requires an investment of time.”


For Further Information Contact:

Karen Treat
Senior Copywriter
Tel: (940) 898-3456
e-mail: ktreat@twu.edu



Page last updated November 9, 2004

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