Advertisement

How can I get along with my family over the holidays?

Sudeepta Varma, MD
Psychiatry
Some of the most common causes of disagreement amongst family members during the holidays include where and with which family members to spend the holidays, finances, and gift giving. Driven by the unrealistic desire to please absolutely everyone (an impossible and improbable feat) we often overextend ourselves and are left exhausted.

Having clear conversations before the holidays, months in advance, is one of the most important ways people can avoid family conflict. Start by deciding very specific things: With whom will you be spending the holidays? With which family members and for how many nights? What will be expected of you and your family? Who will be hosting dinner on the big holidays? How much travel is expected? What is the cost? It is really important to let your extended family know just what you are capable of -- with respect to money and time. How much are you able to spend on gifts for the family? If you’ve lost your job and aren’t in a position to be as generous with your gifts this year have you expressed this directly? Often, we avoid clear communication because it is in our nature, for many of us, to avoid conflict. However, sweeping issues under the rug never make them go away. Sure, there may be initial discomfort when initiating these conversations but they also bring a sigh of relief. Our desire to please others is innate, often at our own expense. But we must also recognize that avoidance of these conversations will lead to disappointment on both ends -- which can create resentment. This resentment can be more damaging than the conversation we are actually avoiding.

By stating our limitations and expectations months before the holiday, in a calm, yet firm fashion, including constraints on time or money, can help avoid family stress.

Continue Learning about Healthy Holidays

Slash Holiday Money Anxiety With These Strategies
Slash Holiday Money Anxiety With These Strategies
In a perfect world, the holidays would be stress-free—a joyful time spent making memories with loved ones. But when you’re strapped for cash, the seas...
Read More
How Can I Eat Healthy During the Holidays?
How Can I Eat Healthy During the Holidays?
What Are Some Healthy Food Substitutions?
What Are Some Healthy Food Substitutions?
Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.