Arguments and old resentments. Jealousies and rivalries. Teenagers and in-laws. There are many different reasons why family drama can occur around the holidays, and everyone agrees that this time of year can be especially stressful. Reduce your anxiety with some simple tips for avoiding family drama, and start diffusing all the tension before it has a chance to really wreak some havoc.
Sidestep the Tough Questions
Family members have a way of asking probing questions of a personal nature. They might bring up the past or ask about a relationship you’d rather forget, mention a job or stumble head long into some other emotional landmine you’ve been working to avoid. Strap on your emotional armor, and remind yourself that this might happen. Be prepared for awkward questions to be hurled your way.
And when they are, gracefully sidestep them. Be honest, and tell them now isn’t the right time to talk about it, or ask to not bring it up right now. Diffuse the situation by asking them a question about themselves, remarking on the food or talking about a subject that doesn’t make you want to pull out your hair.
Smile Through the Criticism
Almost everyone has a family member who can be critical or judgmental, and they’re vocal about it. Your clothing, your hair, your anything could potentially be picked apart until you feel more like the holiday turkey than the actual food. Remind yourself that when people are critical, it’s usually more about them than it is about you. Whatever they say, just smile and tell them thanks for the advice, or you hadn’t considered that or that you’ll try to remember that next time. Then quickly find somewhere else to be, and extract yourself from the conversation.
Don’t Get Caught in Unwanted Political Conversations
Most families have members who share dissimilar political views, and in today’s climate, conversations about the issues can become very heated very quickly. If you know that a hot-topic issue will set off an unwanted conversation, do yourself a favor and avoid the political talk at all costs. You know that someone is going to say something that conflicts with your worldview and cause an argument, so don’t rise to the challenge.
If politics are being discussed,you can avoid prolonging the conversation by not making any comments on the topic and by doing your best to steer it to a totally different subject. Bring up a popular TV show, a recent movie, an incident at work, the food, the weather, New Year’s Eve and anything else you can think of that might change the focus to something a little less dangerous conversation-wise.
Avoiding the Drama
Holidays are stressful enough without adding certain family members into the mix. There’s always something else to do or some place to go, something that needs to be cleaned or something you forgot to do altogether. You have enough to worry about without falling into all the traps that your family members are going to set, both intentionally and unintentionally. Change the topic, avoid the stuff that brings on negative feelings and when all is lost, just walk away. Remember, for better or for worse, that you may not see these people for a whole year until the holidays come around again. Avoid the drama, and make the best of the time you have.