Effective Parenting During the Holidays

Christmas is the time of year when everything gets really busy. We are constantly running around preparing everything for the big event. Sometimes we get caught up in the rush. Decorations are going up, gifts are secretly bought and wrapped, kids ask for expensive gifts, friends and relatives come by all needing and giving gifts, and the list goes on. There is so much going on that it is easy to let good parenting practices fall behind. During the Christmas season our job is no less important then during any other time of year. We can’t let the holiday rush alter the way we parent our children.

Four Parenting Styles

Family on the beach

Studies have shown that when things get busy our parenting suffers. We become less consistent in our parenting. But consistency is a major component in good parenting. As parents, we are to teach our children that they may be prepared to become worthwhile contributors of society and be able to protect themselves from the dangers in the world. Diana Baumrind and Her team of researchers analyzed 32 children for 14 weeks to discover the impact parenting practices have on children. Four different parenting styles emerged: permissive, authoritative, authoritarian and uninvolved.

When parents are authoritative:

  • Children have rules and guidelines they are expected to meet.
  • Parents listen to their children and are more “nurturing and forgiving.”
  • Children are monitored and have clear expectations.
  • The children are assertive and self-reliant.
  • The parents have a balance between firmness and loving, demanding and understanding.

When parents are permissive:

  • Children are dependent and “lacking in self-control and self-reliance.”
  • The parents do not control their children and are not organized or effective in running their home. They baby their children.
  • These parents are insecure about the influence they have on their children.
  • They don’t expect much from their children and have low expectations when it comes to maturity.

When parents are authoritarian:

  • Strict rules with harsh punishment.
  • Parents do not explain the reasons for the rules.
  • There is little support or affection shown.
  • The parents do not encourage children to express their side of the situation.
  • Children are obedient and productive but are not generally happy or self content.

When parents are uninvolved:

  • Parents fulfill basic needs.
  • Ignore needs of attention, love, rules, and communication.
  • Children lack self-control and self-esteem. They are less competent than peers.

Learning about the different types of parenting can enable us to know which category we fall in. We can also compare these types to how our parenting changes during the Christmas season. As we become stressed we may veer off course from where we would like to be in our parenting. We may need to make improvements to align our actions with our intentions. We don’t want our parenting practices to fail and become inconsistent during the holidays. Instead, we can strive to parent as Christ does. As we emulate Christ we can be more consistent in following His teachings and balancing our parenting practices.

Parenting as our Father in Heaven

Young girl enjoying being pushed by her father on the swing
Align your parenting practices with the will of God

Now lets take a look at what The Family: A Proclamation to the World has to say about parenting. Before getting into it, I want to point out that the Proclamation talks about generals. It does not give exact rules for applying these principles. It is up to each individual family unit to consistently implement these principles in their home in their own way.

“Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.”

This section of the Proclamation tells us how to rear our children, what to provide for them, and what to teach them. We don’t go into specifics but we know what our kids should gain out of being part of our family. Along with the essential components of family dynamics, children also need to be taught. The Proclamation gives us guiding principles to teach our children. From these principles we can achieve successful and happy families.

“Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

Our duty as parents is to establish these principles in our home and teach them to our children. If these principles are consistently taught and upheld our family will be more successful. These principles are nearest to the authoritative parenting style mentioned above. it is our parental responsibility to make an extra effort to follow these principles during the holidays. It is easier to slide out of good parenting practices when things get busy. Remembering what we have been taught in the Proclamation and the consequences of not being consistent may help us be more consistent during the busy times.

Parental Consequences of Inconsistency

Portrait of young boy that is sad and confused
Inconsistency negatively affects children

Inconsistent parenting leads to many consequences. It causes children to experience confusion, insecurity, fear, anxiety, rebellion, and parentification. Children learn that they can not rely on their parents to teach them what is and is not ok. They become anxious because they never know when they will be punished for something. As this behavior continues it leads to mistrust and anger at the parent. The child starts to rebel, to reject their parents and hurt them, because the child feels unloved and unprotected. This can also lead to a role reversal where the child becomes the parent to their parent. They take over the role their parent should have had with them. These negative effects will stay with them throughout their life. It is very important that we raise our kids in a healthy and stable environment full of love and righteousness. Jesus taught that His children are most sacred to Him. They are a gift from Him to us, and He does not want us to violate the gift He has given us. In the short term inconsistent parenting is easier and often creates short-term results. But in the long-term you are teaching your kids that the rules are only followed when mom or dad isn’t too busy. You are saying that during the holidays we can get away with things because creating a great Christmas is more important then upholding the day-to-day rules of the household. But children need structure and consistent parenting. Without it they will have difficulty growing up to be productive people who can take care of themselves.

Being a Consistent and Fair Parent

Five sisters sitting together on a beach
Though each child has unique needs, you must be consistent

Consistency does not mean that each child has the same rules regardless of age, personality, or maturity. Consistency and fairness imply that each child is treated uniquely and that discipline and expectations are clearly and consistently met or dealt out. Our children are unique individuals and require different forms of love and discipline to help them learn and grow. That is what the Proclamation is all about.

“Children by their very natures can foster different parenting behaviors for different siblings in the same family. Even children understand that parents adjust their styles to different needs and personality characteristics of their siblings[…]Wise parents work to adjust, relate to, and rear each child in a manner that is somewhat tempered to individual needs. Whatever the nature or disposition of a given child, the Proclamation teaches the principle that parents should ‘rear their children in love and righteousness'(¶ 6)”

Tempering our parenting to individual needs is not unfair or favoritism. In fact it is completely fair. Each child needs something different, so it only makes sense that our parenting will have to adjust slightly to fit each child’s needs. Christ treats each of us as individuals and He loves each of us perfectly. His love is God’s love for His children. He also knows that we each need something different. That is why we don’t have very specific rules for each principle. He knows that each person needs something a little different then anyone else to truly grow to their full potential.

Time, Compromise, and Responsibility

Older sister holding her baby brother
Children learn responsibility from your actions

I have three things that we can implement with our children. If we are consistent with these three things our parenting will improve overall.  Christmas is a great time to make sure we are incorporating rules, compromise, and responsibility into the way we raise our children.


Interacting with our children is a good opportunity to teach our children about rules and limits. As we play and work with our children they “come to understand that rules are necessary “. Rules are important to set boundaries and to learn about right and wrong. Our rules should be reasonable and upheld. Our children need to know why we have rules, what the rules are, and the consequences for disregarding them. During Christmas we can invite our children to help prepare the home for the season and to work with us on our various service opportunities. We can continue to uphold the rules while still enjoying the holiday.


There are a couple of reasons that we should compromise with our kids. First it shows our child that their opinion is worth something. If a child feels that they have been treated unfairly, he or she is “far more likely to become irritable, uncooperative and disrespectful.” Second your child wants to be “ask[ed] for her ideas” The best way to solve a problem is to be active about it and clearly discuss the problem with your child. Encouraging your child by giving value to her opinion allows her to cultivate “initiative and sense of responsibility.” Third, compromise teaches our children how to implement compromise with others.

“When we compromise with children, we teach them to compromise – to think about how their needs and the needs of others can be reconciled. Is there a more important lesson for children to learn, for all their future relationships?”

We can teach our children compromise when it comes to the long lists of Christmas gifts. Explaining to them the true meaning of Christmas and limiting the number of gifts they ask for teaches them compromise. We are showing them that their opinion matters but that the focus should be on the Savior during this time. We can compromise by letting the kids choose some of the things we do for the holidays. They can choose various dinner dishes or they could pick a family in the ward to give service to.


Children need responsibility because it fosters “helpfulness and caring behavior toward others.” This holiday we can give them responsibility through the Christmas chores we assign them and the expectations we have of them during the season. This is a perfect time to give a kid the responsibility of decorating (at the right age) or picking out the perfect gift for a younger sibling. Your kids can be a great help by getting new responsibilities that come only during the holidays. As the holidays draw ever nearer, I hope we can take a moment to sit back and analyze how we are doing as a parent. Don’t let the holidays distract you from your biggest role: being a parent. Consistency is the key to effective parenting. What do you do to stay on track during the holidays? Share with us your thoughts on consistency during Christmas.

Charity graduated from BYU-I with a Bachelor's Degree in English. She has been married for two years and has a beautiful baby girl. She is fascinated by the topics of parenting, marriage, Christ, finances, literature, and all things religion. Charity is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is constantly working on improving Christ-like attributes.