Advertisement

Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

A New Year’s Resolution: Dealing With Family Dysfunction

If you made the familiar trek home to be with family this past holiday season but it turned out to be your personal survivor reality show, you are not alone. Unfortunately, most families don’t function like 1950s sitcoms. In fact, family get-togethers can create angst, leaving us with post holiday let down.

You know the feeling, “I love my family, but they drive me crazy!” Is it because we sleep in our old bedrooms or because nothing has seemed to change in 15 years? Whatever the reason, we return from our holiday visits stressed, fatigued, financially overcommitted, and way too self-reflective about past failures. Guilt seems to be the prevailing emotion. We are guilty for behaving badly, for not being more tolerant, and definitely need to work on staying calmer. Why did we get so upset when Uncle Bob repeated the same story for the fifth time? It was only a story!

Advertisement

We love to fantasize a more idyllic reunion in which we grab a cup of coffee and share stories. There will be great talks, intimate times, and fabulous memories. Then, this dreamlike trance is broken by a familiar voice, “Are you ever going to settle down with a real job like your sister?” So much for the wonderful life! The promise of seasonal cheer gave way to sleep difficulty, headaches, and overeating.

The culprit? Unrealistic expectations. Unless your family has been in intensive therapy all year, probably not much has changed. And unless they begin that needed therapy now, not much will be different next year. Don’t allow this reality to depress you. The good news is you can change. It begins with a resolution. I can’t change my family. But I can change my reaction to them. This year, decide to make a resolution you can keep. Otherwise, you face even more feelings of let down in the months to come!

Advertisement

Change your expectations. Add a little kindness and empathy. Practice more patience, forgiveness, and self-control when it comes to relatives. Make this your New Year’s resolution: I will work on my reactions to family issues and be a model of grace and forgiveness. This doesn’t mean you allow people to walk all over you. It means when people treat you poorly, address it, extend grace, and forgive. Don’t wait for them to do so first. And don’t allow offense and bitterness to take root.

Finally, choose one thing you will do differently this year that will help make things better. For example, “This year I am going to ignore Uncle Bob’s unkind remarks about politics.” Imitate Christ in all you do and ask the Holy Spirit to help you exercise self-control over your tongue. Your family may have problems, but your Christian character and Holy Spirit empowerment can help you live out the power of love. This new year, be more like Christ and love those who don’t always deserve it, family included!

Previous Posts

Thrive Vs. Survive Your Life
Is your life a great adventure or are you just trying to survive the day? Be honest. When it comes to everyday living, most of us would opt for more adventure and less boredom. We waste too much time fretting about things we can’t control and ...

posted 7:00:00am May. 02, 2016 | read full post »

Going Home, With Realistic Expectations
Sitting with women friends at coffee one day, the conversation turned to the topic of mothers and daughters. There we sat, discussing how to feel like grown ups around our moms. Visits home often left these women feeling like they were ...

posted 7:00:23am Apr. 29, 2016 | read full post »

Helping Our Children Keep the Faith
So many parents feel tremendous pain at having children who leave their Christian faith and do not go to church. According to studies by both Barna Group and USA Today, the staggering numbers are almost 75% of Christian young people. The ...

posted 7:00:51am Apr. 27, 2016 | read full post »

God, Where Are You, Do You Care?
About a month ago, I visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC. The experience was sobering, frightening, and chilling. This was clearly one of history's darkest chapters. At the end of the tour, I was struck by one of the survivors ...

posted 7:00:01am Apr. 25, 2016 | read full post »

Stress Help: Think on These Things
Stress affects people differently. Some people carry stress in their physical bodies. Others are more stressed because of their thoughts. They worry and become anxious. When stress originates from your thoughts, you need cognitive strategies ...

posted 7:00:54am Apr. 22, 2016 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.