Dear Doug: Family Entertainment
Q: My wife and I have been getting excited to have all of our children and grandchildren over for Christmas. This is the only time all year that we all get to be in the same room at the same time.
It doesn't happen every time, but often at least one grandchild gets worn out from the party and gets fussy. We have one grandson who's 14, but the other six are all under the age of 10.
Past a certain point, the kids start to want attention and bother their parents. Last year, our youngest grandchild threw a complete fit after about three hours -- one bad enough that our youngest daughter and her husband had to leave abruptly.
We've not yet figured out a good way to entertain the young ones while we spend time with our children.
What can we do to prevent a meltdown from happening?
A: You need to readjust your expectations.
Children need to be supervised and occupied, but you can distribute the responsibility. Have one adult at a time in a separate room with all the children, and rotate as necessary.
Older generations were taught that children's place was to be quiet and out of the way during adult events. A common solution was to leave the kids home until a certain age.
Unfortunately, that's not feasible during the holiday season, when everyone's traveling.
Give your grandchildren something to do while the adults chat. If you make accommodations for the kids, they will be much better behaved.