As the Andy Williams classic attests, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But for many families, the holiday season also delivers its share of drama. The reality is, our relatives don’t always see eye to eye. Throw in the added pressure of only being around each other once a year, the after-dinner coffee may not be the only thing “brewing.” What if Uncle Jake brings up that “forbidden” topic? Or Sally, the distant cousin from Albuquerque, has one too many glasses of chardonnay and proceeds to tell the family how she really feels about Aunt Sue?
Well, tis’ the season to be jolly, and Montgomery College Psychology Professor Joanne Bagshaw has shared five tips to avoid family drama during the holiday season.
1) Limit your time spent with difficult family situations. Plan ahead to organize your time spent in this situation.
2) Avoid staying at family members’ homes if your relationship is challenging.
3) Structure your time to make sure there is not a lot of downtime that can lead to awkward conversations.
4) Have an ally in your family. A family ally is someone that you can count on to get you out of a sticky situation. “Develop a code word or phrase that if you say, will prompt your ally to intervene, politely interrupt, or help you get out of the situation promptly,” Professor Bagshaw suggests. A family ally is also a good person to have for support.
5) Set boundaries. Boundaries are limits that you separate you from others. Boundaries can include not laughing at an offensive joke, leaving the room when high conflict topics come up, or simply saying, “I’d prefer not to talk about that right now.”
Family drama is something that most families will encounter over time. Making sure you are all prepared to avoid the drama is important, according to Professor Bagshaw. While you might not be able to skip out on all of the drama, taking these expert tips into practice will help you and yours survive the holiday season.