National Resource Center for Healthy Marriage and Families
The Director's Corner
December has been designated as
National Stress-Free Holiday Month. Although a stress-free holiday may
not be realistic, there are things we can do to help reduce stress for
ourselves and the families we serve. Positive communication plays an
important role in managing expectations during the holiday season. This
is particularly important for families in transition.
Transitions related to incarceration
or reentry as well as to adopting or fostering a child can be stressful.
In addition to altering normal routines, these transitions can also
impact the holiday traditions or rituals that family members look
forward to each year. Talk openly about family transitions and discuss
creative ways to include everyone in holiday activities even if it means
starting a new family tradition.
This month's Tip focuses on the
importance of creating and nurturing family traditions. The resources
below offer additional ideas for supporting families through transition
including helping them establish and maintain healthy relationships that
include positive communication and conflict resolution skills.
We wish for you and the families you serve a safe, happy, stress-free holiday season!
Robyn Cenizal, Project Director
Tip of the Month
Your monthly tip to strengthen the relationships of those you serve. Share it - Post it - Pass it on!
Back in September, we highlighted the
importance of shared values. Traditions have been described as outward
signs of inner values. Traditions strengthen relationships by providing
stress-reducing stability and shared meaning, which is why positive
communication is so important when traditions are affected by family
transitions. Traditions need not be formal:
- Foster and adoptive families can
ask children to share favorite holiday memories and discuss ways to
blend some of the ideas to create new family traditions like baking
cookies AND watching their favorite holiday movie.
- A custodial and non-custodial
parent can work out a holiday visitation plan with and for their shared
children, advise extended family members of the plan in advance, and
support one another in sticking to it each year.
- Family members can share
pictures of family activities like baking or shopping to stay connected
to family members who can't be home for the holidays.
- Adults reentering family life
after extended time apart (e.g., military deployment, prison term) can
renew a ritual from before the separation or create new ones. They may
consider rescheduling a family celebration for the week or month after
reentry so it occurs when the family is back together.
The Resource Center's Virtual Library
has collected more than 600 materials in a variety of formats including
fact sheets, research-to-practice briefs, brochures, pamphlets,
training resources, program reports or evaluations, and research
Select the links below to view our featured December resources:
The Resource Center's Events Calendar
offers a listing of Resource Center events and other national,
regional, and community-wide events that might be of interest. Upcoming
- On December 12th, the Resource Center convened the New York Integration Institute
in Saratoga Springs, NY--a one day training event for safety-net
service providers across the State of New York. Attendees were given the
opportunity to share information regarding their agencies' current
efforts to promote relationship skills; participate in facilitated
discussions regarding healthy marriage and relationship education skills
and integration strategies; and engage in consensus building and action
planning activities. If you would like more information on upcoming
institutes or to organize an event in your state or area, please contact us.
Housing: A National Convention on Child Homelessness and Poverty 2014
Conference in New York City, NY, January 15-17, 2014: The
Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness (ICPH) invites service
providers, practitioners, policy makers, homeless and formerly homeless
individuals, advocates, researchers, and members of the media to submit
presentation proposals for the Beyond Housing 2014 Conference in
January. Conference sessions will provide an opportunity to build
bridges between service providers and policy makers, and between
practitioners and researchers, helping colleagues across the field to
imagine new and dynamic ways to reduce the impact of poverty and
homelessness on children and families.
- Legacies of the War on Poverty, Lessons for the Future in Washington, DC, January 8, 2014: The
event, sponsored by the National Poverty Center at the University of
Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the Russell Sage
Foundation, and Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, will focus on
research highlighted in a new book, Legacies of the War on Poverty
(Russell Sage Foundation, September 2013). The panel will feature a
discussion among the book’s editors and commentators from across the
political spectrum who will address policy interventions that grew out
of the War on Poverty and take a fresh look at strategies to fight
poverty and promote opportunity.
Feedback and Technical Assistance:
If you have suggestions or wish to speak with a Resource Center staff member, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you. If you would like to request Technical Assistance, please submit a Training and Technical Assistance Request Form and our Technical Assistance Coordinator will contact you.
To learn more about the Resource Center visit us at www.healthymarriageandfamilies.org
The National Resource Center for
Healthy Marriage and Families supports safety-net service providers as
they integrate healthy marriage and relationship education skills into
service delivery systems as part of a comprehensive, culturally
appropriate, family-centered approach designed to promote