Keeping Christmas Day on track at a large family gathering can be difficult and has the potential to implode. Asking probing and hurtful questions can cause upset and are better left unsaid.
In order to keep Christmas Day on track here are the most common issues relatives face during the holidays and how to deal with them.
- Bringing up old issues: When a relative brings up something you did or said in the past. The best way to deal with this is to say something like; ‘it was an unfortunate mistake’ and then to redirect the conversation to something more recent. If the relative just won’t let go you can say something like; ‘I am not interested in that conversation and would rather discuss something else’
- Disagreements on child discipline: parenting styles change with every generation so it can be hard for older people to agree with how you are disciplining your children. A solution to this is remove yourself from the situation. If you are the older relative you need to remind yourself that it is not your responsibility to comment on the way the younger generation is disciplined.
- Putting pressure on the younger generation: Questions like ‘Do you think you will ever marry?’ or ‘Are you thinking of having children?’ can be very hurtful even though they may be well meaning. A good way to handle these intrusive questions is to make a joke about it or you can tell the relative you would rather talk about this later or in private.
- Rehashing embarrassing childhood stories: This is particularly embarrassing if the person has brought a new partner to the holidays. This is a form of bullying and is tasteless. The solution is to privately ask if you can tell the story and if they say ‘no’, then not to tell it.
- Helicopter parenting your grow children: If grown children come to visit you during the holidays it can be quite tempting to offer advice about their lives. The solution to this is for the adult children and their parents to have a conversation before they arrive for the holidays and let the parents know in a kind way that you don’t want to be having this type of conversation.
Merry Christmas and have a safe and fun filled holiday.