Is there one thing you ultimately dread about meeting family for dinner this holiday season?
If you’re family is anything like mine, then one of those things might be sharing that special family time at the table knowing that that one family member with no filter, is going to be there.
No matter how much we create and plan these upcoming seasonal celebrations that we wish could resemble the perfect hallmark holidays, or that vintage family painting, it’s not all starlight and chocolate chip cookies.
When it comes to extended family, especially if you already have a husband and children of your own, then boundaries are highly necessary. So, how do you face and manage this challenging possibility of encountering that unwelcome comment or discussion coming from someone you care about while surrounded by the people you love?
In this post I am going to reveal 14 tips on how to deal with difficult family on the holidays, (in this case, especially, when it comes to undesired conversations), so that you can know when to listen or to just let them talk, when to ask genuine questions and when to end the conversation, etc. The idea is to keep the peace for everyone involved, while prioritizing your obligation as a Wife and Mom in the process.
Watch for trigger topics
You will know when someone just wants to start stirring the pot or when it’s just a genuine comment. Either way, if you know where this is going, you need to either A- Change the conversation right away or B- Offer to move on to another activity.
Some topics are absolutely off limits. Period.
Only you know which comments are utterly forbidden and it is up to you to stop it right then and there. Just say you know what, we’re not even gonna go there. Do not engage in it one bit. Even if you have to get up and leave and make that your last visit in a while. I for example do not tolerate any disrespect on my husband. If it happened or if my children were treated in a way that I disapprove of after I clearly addressed how I feel, then I will no longer take my family to that house.
It’s ok to disagree
Disagreeing is not fighting, nor does it mean that they’re hating on you or that you don’t love them. It just means you think differently and we all know that that is ok and it’s worthy of respect.
Find areas where you agree
Don’t get defensive and start to sound like this person is out to challenge you. Focus on the parts you do agree with and transition the conversation elsewhere with hints of acknowledgement to what they’ve shared.
Avoid personal attacks. Should they arise breath deeply and count
It goes both ways. It is ok to disagree, yet highly important to be responsible for our comments so that we neither attack personally nor trigger a personal attack toward us.
Accept that you can’t change the other person
Do not carry out the conversation on your end with the attempt to try to change the other person’s mind. That’s not gonna happen.
Remember to listen and acknowledge
Should it be one of those conversations that involve politics, race, religion or other similar personal, yet debatable topics, then it’s just nice to ask genuine questions and acknowledge the other’s point of view.
Know when to just let them talk and not even go there with them
Let’s be honest, some people out there are literally a 2 year old in a grown up’s body. They’re literally that mentally/emotionally challenged for some reason and you know who those people are. So pick your battles and determine where your energy is worth investing and where to just let it go and be like “yeah u-huh, ok”.
Keep in mind it’s not about you
Again, it’s not always that their out to get you. It’s not always or likely that so and so will wake up on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning and be like : ”Today, I am so going to give her a hard time tonight”! (Insert evil laugh here) And even if they did. It’s not about you. It’s a reflection of their own soul!
Know when to end it
Everything must come to and end but especially a conversation that you determine is getting you no where, getting out of hand or just straight up getting heated and disrespectful. Then, it is time to kindly move on.
Agree to talk about it some other time
Simple as that. In the past, I’ve personally had to say “You know what, I love you but I am done talking about this for now”. And just move on. And no I usually decide to actually not go there again. 😉
Change the topic or offer to move on to a new activity
As we addressed in the first tip, if it becomes necessary, just change the topic or offer to bring out the dessert or whatever comes next. Just disengage when it is time, before the time gets spoiled for everyone else because of the tense environment that’s started.
Reaffirm the relationship you have with one another
“Look, you know we love y’all but I think it’s time for ‘x,y,z”.
You, your husband and your children come first
I will never finish stressing this enough through-out my blog.
Your.👏 Family.👏 Comes.👏 FIRST!👏
So if need be, here is my ULTIMATE TIP for how to deal with difficult family on the holidays🙂:
Whatever it takes. If engaging with extended family does anything but bring you and your children hope, love, joy and peace, then PEACE OUT!✌
For 4 long years, my husband and I spent every holiday just the 2 of us with our own little family. It was pretty sad that things had to be a certain way for some time. But I’m the kind of Mom that does whatever it takes to put my family first, literally not mattering who I have to cut off.
But you know what else? If someone had asked to name 3 good things my kids were missing out on for being kept from my certain people, I couldn’t name one.
It was, in fact a good thing for them, as it was for me, and I need to be able to function as best I can for my family and not be miserable all because of letting others interfere with my peace, my relationship, my parenting or my happiness.
Do to what extent are you willing to do the same?
How will you plan family time this season?