Preventing Holiday Headaches With Your Family

25 Strategies For Preventing Holiday Headaches With Your FamilyPreventing Holiday Headaches With Your Family

The tension of a lifetime can emerge during a holiday visit with family.  There is something about family gatherings that can transform even the most confident man or woman into a helpless child, and usually thoughtful people into petty bickerers.  If you are stressing out about spending holidays with your family, here are some strategies that can keep you from getting sucked into family conflicts.

1.     Invite a friend or two to participate in family gatherings.  Behavior almost always improves in the presence of outsiders.

2.     Consider having family events in a neutral place such as a restaurant or a resort.  Reserve these places early.

3.     If specific family members get on your nerves, come up with a strategy to deal with the situation when it occurs.

4.     Develop your sense of humor.  Most things can be amusing if you don’t take them too seriously.

5.     Everybody tends to stay up later during holiday visits.  Tiredness tends to ensure bickering and short temperedness.  This is true for children and adults.  Get plenty of rest.

6.     Don’t take responsibility for everyone else’s happiness.  It’s okay to simplify, ask for help and change the way things have been done in the past.

7.     Avoid the need to criticize or to tell someone how things “Should be done”.  Remember, you have two ears and one mouth.  Listen more, talk less.

8.     If your momma asks you to go to church with her, go.  You love her and it will make her happy.

9.     If your family tends to have intense debates about religion or politics, you might want to declare a truce.  Typically, days can be spent preparing for the big meal and this well thought out event can quickly be ruined over a useless debate.

10. Make sure everyone knows what is going on; where, when and with whom.

11. Expect the unexpected.  Be prepared for the unplanned events that always seem to occur at family get togethers.  Be flexible.  Remember you didn’t pick your family and they didn’t pick you either.

12. Be mindful of the things you have instead of the things you don’t have.  Gratitude will keep you more focused on peace and harmony.

13. Lead by example.  When family members see you avoid petty conflicts, they will more likely follow your lead.

14. Brace yourself for teenagers.  Keep these strategies in mind:

a.      Avoid power struggles

b.     Expect some limit testing

c.     Focus more on listening than on demanding to be heard.

d.     Take a time out yourself when you feel the need.

e.      Establish curfews, expectations, guidelines ahead of time.

15. If family members prefer to remain home alone for their own personal reasons, respect their wishes and don’t pressure them into uncomfortable social situations.

16. You must accept the fact that it may not be possible to have a house full of relatives who get along.  It may be better to have a smaller gathering comprised of family and friends who interact well together than a larger group that doesn’t get along.

17. Don’t aim for perfection.  Unrealistic demands you place on yourself is a recipe for frustration and disaster.

18. If your family gathering is too much stress to bear, consider not going.

19. Leave your baggage at the door.  You don’t have to resolve unfinished family business during this holiday visit.  I suggest you plan to do it at another time if you feel the need.

20. Avoid too much downtime.  You are setting yourself up for conflicts if you allow your guests to get bored.  Plan group activities.  Go to a movie or local attraction.  Ride around and look at Christmas lights or play a game of football.

21. Make sure you spend quality time with your spouse and your children.  They are your priority, not your parents or siblings.

22. Don’t try to diet.  This is usually a dumb idea.  Moderation in food and alcohol is a better idea.  Make a plan and then do your best to stick to it.

23. Have realistic expectations and “go with the flow”.  It also helps if you can remember to breathe.

24. If a family member is not able to attend the holiday festivities, arrange a phone call or make a videotape of them event and mail it to them.

25. Keep family visits short.  Consider staying in a motel.  Remember the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Fish and company both stink after 3 days”.


Preventing Holiday Headaches With Your Family by: Mark Webb LMFT

Mark Webb is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice at South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center in Valdosta. He is the author of How To Be A Great Partner. Mark has been in the field of helping individuals and couples since 1986. He has a vast amount of experience and he can have a very positive impact on your life and your relationship. If you are looking for individual or marriage counseling, please call his office in Valdosta, Georgia and his staff will help you set up an appointment.
South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center
2704 N. Oak St. Blg B-3
Valdosta, Georgia 31602

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