Repairing Family Relationships During the Holidays
During the holidays, it always began at the dinner. Uncle Sam would begin grilling me on politics. He was convinced that college had brain washed me and my political positions were misguided. When I would simply try to say, “Let’s just enjoy the meal and each other. Surely there are other things we can discuss,” I was unsuccessful trying to change the topic. When it came to politics, he wouldn’t relent and needed to lecture me on how wrong I was to hold any position different from his. One year, the discussion became so heated and nasty, I left the table in tears. He is my “difficult” uncle.
The holidays are upon us and everyone has at least one family member they consider a bit difficult. The difficult person can create an uncomfortable tension that will be felt when you all sit down for the family meal or celebration. The question is, how do we handle difficult relatives—the ones who drink too much and say terrible things, criticize family members, argue to the point of exhaustion or are so defensive that any conversation is tense?
Most of us dread seeing difficult relatives so we need a plan to deal with them. Unless they have had a transformation during the year, you know what to expect and can think through different ways to handle the expected negativity. Be ready to be the one making repair or responding in a different way.
Here are 8 tips to help direct your responses.