Surviving Family Holiday Gatherings

Let’s face it: While we love our families, we don’t always get along with everybody and there’s usually that one member who we always seem to butt heads with. After all, it wouldn’t be a family gathering without a little drama, right?

When it comes to family matters, it can be a tricky balancing act with how much you’re willing to tolerate, and what’s healthy to tolerate. Each family has its own unique dynamic. What may be offensive to one family, may be normal to another family. For example, in my family, we tease each other mercilessly–but we do it because we love each other; that’s how we show affection. My ex-husband thought this was so odd and somewhat confusing. He said, “You guys seem like you like each other, but you’re kind of mean to one another.”

No matter what type of family you’re a part of, it’s important for your own well-being to set healthy boundaries. If you’re feeling anxious about your upcoming family get together, make sure to plan accordingly. You are not obligated, even with family, to tolerate behavior that puts you in an uncomfortable or toxic situation.

Here are some tips for when those what-if situations pop up during your family time.

Plan ahead.

Don’t wait for an uncomfortable or unhealthy situation to happen and then try to configure a get-away plan. Before arriving at your destination, make the proper arrangements beforehand. If you’re staying at someone’s home, make sure that you’ll be able to have privacy there should you require it. If that’s not possible (i.e. you’re stuck on the pull-out couch), consider staying at a hotel. Don’t feel guilty about needing your own space. Family gatherings can be overwhelming and you need a space to decompress when things get a little tense.

Remain in your lane.

If another family member tries to rope you into their drama they have with someone else in the family, stay out of it! This tends to happen often when you have a big family with big personalities. It’s a pack mentality–don’t take the bait. A simple “I’m not getting involved” should do the trick, however, you may need to be a little more firm with the stubborn family members.

Make time for you.

While it’s important to spend time with family during this season, it’s even more important to make time for yourself. A great way to clear your head it to meditate or go for a walk. Remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for needing alone time.

We don’t get to choose our family, but we do have control over how we react and handle those awkward situations. And you know when families get together, those awkward moments are a guarantee, but honestly, sometimes those make for the best memories!

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