Magazine article USA TODAY

Divorced Parents Shouldn't Compete

Magazine article USA TODAY

Divorced Parents Shouldn't Compete

Article excerpt

Competition and unrealistic expectations ramp up stress around the holidays, cautions Robert Billingham, an associate professor in the Human Development and Family Studies Program at Indiana University, Bloomington. "The holidays are about family, but we become victimized by the belief that everyone's supposed to be joyful and happy. We set the expectations too high to begin with."

Pressure mounts to give impressive gifts. This competition can exacerbate tenuous relationships involving divorced couples. Billingham offers the following tips:

* Focus on the meaning of the holiday, not the problems (such as finances and travel). "The holidays deal with the appreciation for what we have, the fact that we have enough to survive, to exist, and to be comfortable. It is very simplistic, but the more we can focus on those types of issues and less on things such as the perfect family image or the perfect holiday image, we're better off."

* Volunteer at a charity. …

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