. . . and a Happy New Year?

Holidays can be a time of fun, festivities, and togetherness—and also stress. New Year’s Eve may be especially burdened with expectations: alcohol is a part of many celebrations, people often feel pressured to behave out of character, and the thought of making New Year’s resolutions can provoke anxiety. Why not view New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day as a prime opportunity to work on good communication with your children, pass on positive family values, and spend low-key, relaxed time together?

Tips for . . .

all parents

  • If you choose to drink, drink responsibly and in moderation. Set a good example. New Year’s Eve is an especially dangerous time to be on the road. Your choices today will influence your kids’ choices later when they become drivers.

  • Plan a celebration with other families. Try spending time outside (walking, ice-skating, watching fireworks, or playing games) to work off excess energy and excitement, and then invite everyone in for a potluck meal or special treats.
  • Respectfully share your values with your children regarding New Year celebrations. Note that teens and preteens are often under pressure to include alcohol and/or sexual activity (kissing, making out, and more) in their New Year’s celebrations. Ask what they think about such pressures, be clear about your expectations, and really listen to what they have to say.

parents with children ages birth to 5

  • Turn the clocks ahead several hours and hold a “Countdown to Midnight” party that includes homemade noisemakers, confetti, and other items kids can help make and enjoy.
  • Spend time with other families who have young children. Enjoy low-key playtime and a celebratory meal together.

parents with children ages 6 to 9

  • Invite your neighbors to join you in holding a progressive New Year’s party. Go from home to home having appetizers or treats (and perhaps sharing special activities, such as writing kind messages to each family on posters they can keep). You don’t have to spend lots of time at any one place, and your children and you will connect with many people at once.
  • Make a time capsule with your children for the coming year. Include a list of predictions about the world, your family and friends, and yourselves. Save your predictions (and any special items) in a safe place. Share your lists and ideas at your next New Year’s Eve celebration!

parents with children ages 10 to 15

  • Invite your young teen’s friends for a sleepover. Don’t be shy about inviting parents to hang out with you, too. Encourage your child to plan his or her own New Year’s activities, such as making predictions or resolutions and counting down until it’s midnight—somewhere on the earth!
  • Plan and prepare a special meal together. Go all out (whatever that means to your family)!
  • Invite your family into a “safe” zone at home to talk about any ongoing issue troubling you or your children (such as a disagreement or power struggle). Agree to all try your best to speak kindly and respectfully and to really listen to each other. Focus on finding a solution as a great way to kick off the New Year.

parents with children ages 16 to 18

  • Invite your teen to join you in celebrating a healthy, safe New Year by going out to a movie together, sharing a nice dinner, or enjoying a fun, active pastime with each other.
  • Ask your teens about their hopes and dreams for the coming year. If they are reluctant to talk, ask open-ended questions, such as, “Is there anything you’d like to change about the coming year?” or “What’s one thing you’re looking forward to this year?”

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