The holiday season is upon us. Before we know it, we’ll be gathered around the dinner table with loved ones to enjoy the food, fun and festivities. For many, this is a wonderful time of year to reconnect and celebrate. But for some families, the holiday togetherness can lead to stress and friction. Here are four suggestions to help you avoid family feuds this holiday season and make the most of your time together.
Disconnect from the drama
If your family is prone to family feuds, consider limiting the time you spend with them this holiday season. If you know a certain conflict is bound to come up, plan ahead. Think about how you will handle it. What will you say or do, if anything? You may need to intentionally disconnect from the emotional commotion to make this year's family interaction as pleasant as possible. Don’t unleash your resentments for past wrongdoings and don’t allow relatives to do the same to you. If some family visits are not enjoyable, consider limiting the time you commit to them, and make other plans with family (or friends) you do enjoy.
Stay out of in-law arguments
Be careful not to get involved in in-law disputes. The holiday gathering is not the time or place to divulge your disdain for your spouse’s mother or your brother’s wife. If you’re asked for advice about an in-law, try to be supportive. And beware that if you do get involved, no matter how good your intentions, you’ll most likely end up being the “bad guy.” And resist the urge to become defensive if you become the focus of an in-law driven feud. Taking the high road will be worth it in the long run.
Keep the kids out of the conflict
After a separation, divorce or remarriage, many things change, including holiday celebrations with children. There could still be unsettled agreements or lingering resentments involving the kids. Sadly, children are often used as pawns between bickering parents. This damages the spirit of the child and only adds more turmoil to all families involved. Don’t use kids as pawns or players in adult conflicts. Try to keep adult issues between the adults involved and honor this time of year for the children’s sake.
Make realistic expectations
Many times we look back on the holidays of our youth and yearn for the sense of wonder and joy we felt. Perhaps that sense of wonder is gone from your adult holidays, but that doesn't mean you can't make the most of the experience. Be realistic when you plan for the holidays, and don't let lofty expectations or memories of the good ol’ days ruin your spirit.
Don’t let the challenges of family friction or feuds turn into crisis this holiday season. If disagreements aren’t resolved by the New Year, that doesn't mean it resolution isn't possible. You and your family may need to live with how things are, for now. When tempers cool, reconnect with family members involved in the conflict, and let them know you are willing to come together and resolve the issue. Sometimes professional help, such as counseling, can facilitate family healing.