Tips for Navigating the Family DRAMA on Christmas
Families can be complicated. While you probably love them dearly, each time a group of loved ones gets together, there will most likely be one or two squished toes, even in the best-case scenario. In the worst-case scenario, feuds can form and rifts can appear between family members.
So, what’s the best way to navigate some of the social complexities that can come with the festive season?
1. Find an Ally
An ally doesn’t mean it’s you and them against everyone else. What it does mean is that you can have someone to touch base with, or even just know that they understand some of the frustrations of the holiday gathering madness.
Pick someone who you trust, has similar values to you and who you know will be able to approach the situation with some level-headedness.
2. Bring Some Boundaries
Are you finding yourself cooking for all of your extended family and still doing a large pile of dishes afterwards? Do you seem to be doing endless trips back-and-forth from the shops or the airport because of poor planning? There’s one simple solution for you: boundaries!
It’s okay to not attend every single event, and it’s all right to tell someone “no” when you feel like you’ve already done enough.
Boundaries can extend to financial matters too (your family doesn’t always need to know how much you earn, and your uncle can ask someone else for that loan), as well as emotional (if you’re struggling with too many personal questions, gently remind yourself that you only need to tell people what you’re comfortable with sharing).
3. Approach the Situation with Compassion
It’s easy to get caught up in your own head and forget that other people have complex and difficult lives as well. If you feel yourself becoming frustrated, keep in mind that most acts are not personal attacks, but rather the process of someone else attempting to navigate an equally challenging reality as yourself.
Take a moment to consider whether the intent of the person is matching up with the outcome of the situation. Problematic behaviour doesn’t always need to lead to conflict. Instead, it can lead to discussions, understanding and challenging perspectives in constructive ways.