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Holidays: 5 tips to avoid family fights

holidays, candle in glass votive with fruit, ribbons and wreath

In a short time, households all over America will be celebrating numerous special occasions. From Thanksgiving to Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year, the holidays will soon be upon us. Most people would agree that, so far, 2020 has been CRAZY. People are longing for a return to normalcy and to celebrating family traditions and enjoying the simple things in life without political or social issue distractions.

Some people (myself included) feel such a need to “social distance” from social media and mainstream media and politics that they’re decorating their homes for the holidays a bit earlier than usual this year. In a perfect world, we’d always have perfect holiday celebrations. In reality, many issues can arise that not only put a damper on festivities but can straight up ruin a special occasion. Some people struggle from the start during the holidays because they have lost a loved one. If you’re in this category, take a look at this post, which offers encouragement. Another thing that can turn a joyful holiday celebration into a nightmare is family fighting.

5 tips to help avoid family problems during the holidays

We all love our families, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all family members get along perfectly well. Personality clashes are common. If you know ahead of time that you’ll be spending time with family and want to keep things as peaceful and joyful as possible, keep the tips on the following list in mind:

  1. Set boundaries for yourself ahead of time and have a plan in mind to diffuse potential trouble. For instance, if you know a specific person tends to try to incite discord by raising controversial topics, you can either avoid conversations with him or her altogether or make a plan to go help in the kitchen, play with the kids or get a breath of fresh air if you think a discussion is headed downhill.
  2. Families may be less likely to start arguing if they’re involved in fun activities together. If you’re hosting family events for the holidays, plan ahead for some crafts, games or other fun activities you can enjoy as a group. The less time people sit around talking politics, the better!
  3. If you’re hosting a party, include a start and finish time. If you’re attending a party, plan your arrival and departure times ahead and stick to your plan. As a host, set times helps you avoid problems that may arise if the relative who tends to drink too much and become obnoxious decides to stay all night.
  4. Do your relatives are always grill you about when you and the person you’re dating are going to get engaged, or, if you’re married, when you’re going to have a baby or if you have several kids, when you’re going to stop having babies? You can nip rude questions in the bud by smiling and replying, “Thanks for thinking of us. We’ll let you know if we have any news to share.” End of story.
  5. If you feel a need to avoid being in the center of conversation and don’t want to appear rude or like you’re being unsocial, you can assign yourself a duty that keeps you busy and distracted for much of the party, such as carrying around trays of party food and drinks or putting your mad photography skills to use by acting as resident photographer for the event!

And, speaking of the relative who imbibes to the point of oblivion, if you are not 100% certain that every person attending your party will be responsible when it comes to alcohol, then you’re better off not serving any.

The holidays may also be stressful if you’re a parent who has recently gone through divorce. You can avoid a lot of problems by negotiating a plan with your co-parent ahead of time in an amicable fashion. This helps ensure no one will show up anywhere unannounced or uninvited or start arguments about where the kids should be at a particular date and time.

Finally, if there’s a toxic family member in your life, and you know that being with this person is unhealthy for you, then don’t invite him or her, or don’t go to a party you know he or she is likely to attend. It is NOT meanspirited or rude to protect your mental, emotional and physical health from a toxic relationship.

Remember the focus

Family problems are a part of life, but they can be especially challenging to handle during the holidays. To avoid unrest, try to focus on the specific focus of a particular special occasion and let your thoughts, words and actions be guided by that thought. Also, try to remember that nobody is perfect and “family” is a blessing!

Happy holidays!

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