Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together


10 Tips to Deal With Difficult Family Members During the Holidays

posted by Linda Mintle

1. Anticipate your reactions. Because of past experience with those difficult family members, you know what to expect. So, anticipate how you will react ahead of time. Think it through. Imagine a scenario and how you will respond. This anticipation can help you feel in control of problematic situations.

2. Pick your battles. There will always be the relative that asks why you are not married yet, have kids or aren’t in a better job. Decide if you want to take this on or simply respond with a preplanned response like, “I don’t know. Got any ideas.” Sometimes it is best not to engage because it will upset you.

3. Practice restraint and extend grace. This is one time of the year that you may want to refuse to engage in conflict or deep family issues. Keep it light with the focus on the positive things of the holiday. Redirect conversation to subjects of gratitude and joy. If a difficult relative tries to pick a fight, don’t go there. Determine to show mercy and grace this time of year.

4. Limit alcohol. When some people drink they get belligerent and combative. This only makes matters worse so opt for an alcohol free celebration or make sure people are not over indulging.

5. Have enough variety in activities that everyone can find something he or she likes to do. Take a walk, start a card game, play touch football, join in on games with the kids, etc. Keeping people engaged helps stave off opportunities to get on each other’s nerves. Getting involved with the kids can relieve stress and get you out of difficult conversations.

6. With really difficult families, limit your time and have an exit strategy. If people start to become verbally abusive or drink too much and get combative, kindly excuse yourself and have some where to go. Asa  grown up, you don’t have to put up with this type of behavior.

7. Use this time to watch and learn. It may help to become an observer of your family interactions. Watch how people relate and interact. Study the family and decide if you are part of the dysfunction and how to make changes. Family get togethers can be learning situations if you are aware of the patterns of interactions.

8. Be realistic. Unless your family has been in therapy, not much will be different. But these are your relatives and do not have to be your best friends. Be respectful and kind but don’t expect too much if nothing has changed.

9. Know what triggers you. It helps to know your hot buttons and be prepared to respond calmly. You have control over your reactions so don’t expect others to change. You change how you respond to those hot triggers.

10. Pray and remind yourself that you are a grown-up now. Family get togethers can bring back painful memories. It helps to remind yourself that you are not that helpless child anymore, that you are not a victim and can behave in ways that take care of you. If you need a break, go for a quick walk, or in to a room and just deep breathe and get your thoughts together. Pray and ask God to help you be lovely to those not always so lovely. By God’s grace, you can do it.



  • Linda Mintle

    Thanks so much!

  • http://companyfinder.ie/doran_w_o_toole_solicitor_in_bray.html Doran W. O’Toole & Co

    Hello There. I found your blog the use of msn. That is a really neatly written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back to learn more of your helpful information. Thank you for the post. I will certainly return.

  • Pingback: 10 Tips to Deal With Difficult Family Members During the Holidays | Dr. Linda Mintle

Previous Posts

The Real Reason We Yawn!
It's late afternoon. You are sitting in a meeting. Three people at the table yawn and you do the same. Are you bored? Tired? Or what? Need more coffee? Need more sleep? Or maybe you need a nice cool air-conditioned room! Even though we do yawn more when we are tired, tired may not be the re

posted 7:00:09am Aug. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Teacher Tells Student What Words She Cannot Say!
Some things defy common sense...here is one of them. Be ready to be outraged! Maybe you heard the story last week. High school senior Kendra Turner was suspended in Dyer County Tennessee for breaking a class rule. You might be thinking, "OK, teachers need to keep control of their classrooms."

posted 7:00:54am Aug. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon Split: Telling All May Have Been Too Much
The gossip train is all a buzz with what looks like a split between pop diva, Mariah Carey and her husband, America's Got Talent host, Nick Cannon. The usual suspects, TMZ, People, Hollywood Life and others are reporting the spilt, saying divorce is a done deal. The six-year marriage that produced

posted 7:51:12am Aug. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Withholding Friendship as a Weapon
I'll never forget the day my five-year-old came home and said, "No one will play with 'Sandy' because she doesn't do what they say!" I was upset and thankfully, my daughter thought it was mean. But the other girls excluded little Sandy and rejected her from their friendship circle. Would you be

posted 7:00:24am Aug. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Look Before You Lock: Leaving Kids in Hot Cars
It's August. It's hot! You just need to run into the store for a few minutes to grab a few groceries. Your six-month-old is sleeping soundly and he really needs a nap. Should you leave him be and run in to the store? With all the news about children dying in hot cars, the Dr. Linda Mintle radio sh

posted 7:00:03am Aug. 18, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

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

All reported content is logged for investigation.