Coping with difficult family members at Christmas time can be very challenging.
At Christmas time we tend to make a big effort to catch up with close family and friends. For many people this is the best part of the holiday season. For others, however, it comes with great difficulty. Christmas has a way of highlighting difficult relationships. For this reason it is not always the most wonderful time of year for a lot of people. Coping with difficult family members at Christmas time can be very challenging.
There are a number of things that can put huge amounts of pressure on relationships during this time of year. Christmas is a time of great financial pressure for a lot of people. Presents and extra domestic bills quickly add up. It can also be a stressful time at work due to end of year assignments and deadlines.
Extra social occasions and events can often mean that healthy eating, exercise and wellness are not a priority. It often results in us feeling run down which can put a strain on relationships as it may feel like we are all getting the worst of each other. In this arena dealing with difficult family members is an overwhelming task.
It is important to remember that at Christmas time there can be a big shift in family dynamics. People who are living abroad come home to visit, routines (and sleeping arrangements) are changed and people can feel a little bit displaced. This environment can really trigger relationships that already struggle under regular circumstances.
We have some tips that might help you deal with difficult family members over Christmas
- Knowing what to expect of people is important. If the same issue has appeared every other year then expecting it is no harm. There is a lot to be said for being prepared.
- Remember that as humans we cannot control other people, but we can control how we respond to them.
- Alcohol exacerbates these things. Difficult relationships and family members may pan out better in a sober environment.
- Don't be afraid to do things differently. Just because X and Y happened last year doesn't mean that it can't change this year. This could involve a venue, tradition or gifting arrangement for example.
- When in doubt, focus on the children. Kids have a wonderful way of removing us from our own anxieties and helping grown ups to focus on what matters most. It's all about the kids.
Our latest episode of The Motherboard Podcast is a guide to surviving Christmas and we hope you find it helpful!