Thursday, December 10, 2015

Family Conflict and The Holidays.

When a holiday or special occasion comes roaming around, there are times where some of us can’t help but to be put in the position where we have to consider spending time with family members we don’t particularly care for. For me it’s my sister in law whom I rather not have to be in the company of.
During holiday's such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, Memorial day, and Easter my mother feels torn in between the decision of which one of her children's home will she visit. Quite often she will choose my brother's home and try to convince me to go over so that we could all celebrate as a family. Whenever she chooses my brother's home I kindly refuse and explain how grateful I am for the invite but I and my children have already made plans and are going to have friends over at our home.
That doesn’t fly over so well with mom and of course for at least a few seconds we express our views to one another with a bit of hostility. Before you know it, my brother is calling me to give his opinion on the topic, which is also, not very amusing. What I find interesting in all this is how unresolved issues from the past which have nothing to do with the present, suddenly rise to the surface during our heated conversations.
It is not uncommon to have some sort of stressful family interactions, especially during the holidays or special occasion. But, over the years and with practice, I have learned that there are things we can do to considerably change how we respond to these individuals who we care for very much and are in our lives for the long haul.

Rather than letting our unresolved family conflicts continue to eat away at our insides, there are some steps we can take to help guide us and not let things go overboard:
 Don’t go overboard with anger. Try and remember that this may also be stressful for the other person. Even if there is animosity, still try and not to make an enemy out of your family member. That is just going to disturb you inner peace, and put a damper on the occasion, as well as cause you emotional hurt in the long run.
Strengthen the connection you have with other siblings, cousins, in-laws and relatives who are sensible and caring, include them and your friends in your activities.
 Disagreements between you and your family members can be an opportunity to learn important lessons about patience, persistence, setting good limits, or it might be that you and this other person are both a little too stubborn and possibly this family conflict is a chance to work on finding a middle ground.
 Express awareness of them caring about you and let them know you care for them. Suggest making your next meeting more satisfying for both of you.
 If your relative has a personality that is self-absorbed, or stubborn, don’t set up an unrealistic expectation that this person is going to change. When it comes to difficult family members, it’s good to just keep your interactions civil, while remembering you do not need to change this person’s personality. You just need to stay healthy, calm and relaxed regardless of their behavior.

When I first wrote this post, well over 4 years ago, I was experiencing a lot of depression in my life as well as many unresolved family issues. I am happy to say that I have taken my own advice over the years and have indeed practiced what I so passionately preach. 

 In these recent years, holidays have been a lot smoother as well more peaceful and festive.  
If you are experiencing less than a festive feeling toward the holiday season, don’t be hard on yourself, you are not alone, know that there are those who understand and that you too can get through this. 

For others, who don’t share any similar feelings during the holidays; feel free to share any tips that might help those who still experience some challenges. 



  1. I'm glad things have improved for you. So often there is something you can do and although there ARE sometimes people who are just impossible to deal with, usually it can be smoothed over, if only for the benefit of the elderly family members and the very young.

    1. I agree with you Jenny. Thank you so much! Happy Holidays!

  2. It's good to hear that things are much smoother than before. But families have a way of drawing out the worst in you at the best of times. 'Familiarity breeds contempt' sometimes. I'm no expert but here are some my personal tips:

    1. Don't allow anyone to steal your joy at such a festive time (better said than done). Ignore nasty remarks, brush it off and change the conversation into a positive one, every time. Sooner or later everyone will know who is the one trying to cause a problem.

    2. Confront the person and ask them directly what they meant by such statements because sometimes it's not always aimed at you in the way you think. Caution - the response could ruin your day - see above.

    3. Don't accept an invitation when you know it's going to cause you trouble. The stressful build up to the date, can make you act differently before anything has even been said or done to you. Your feelings may cause you to speak out of turn or abrupt unexpectedly, making a situation worse, when no harm was intended.

    4. If you have a large family, why not decide to spend a year at a different house each time. OK, same people, but sometimes they will behave with more respect when they are not at their own home, in their own comfort zone.

    Anyway, have a wonderful festive season, eat, drink and be merry and enjoy every moment you open your eyes to see a new day :)

    1. RPD, love your tips and attitude! Have a Happy Holiday!

  3. I swear, this was written for me. I have so much family drama going on and I too, do NOT get along with my sister-in-law. I have gotten to the point in my life where it is healthier for me to cut all the toxic people out and just focus on my own, immediate and loving family.

    1. I believe it is healthier to remove your self from the toxic people. After your piece of mind and health comes first. I we can avoid the drama….which many times we can if we choose to, It works about in our best intersest and good mental health. Thanks MM.

  4. I hope you had a happy Christmas and New Year regardless. Family can sometimes be so difficult to handle because emotions just run stronger. Especially during times we should just be relaxed and happy.

    1. Hi Misha, I did have a happy Christmas. Thank you for visiting and I hope your holiday was good and this New Year a fantastic one!

  5. All families faces good and the bad time it is just a part of misunderstanding of two people. Hope you are doing great with your family life in vacation and daily life too.

    1. Thank you HDC, hope you are doing great as well. I appreciate your visit.

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