How to Deal with Family Conflict During the Holidays

What is it about the holidays that brings conflict to a family? Who else wants to know how to deal with family conflict during the holidays?

Relationship experts say it is the close quarters and heightened stress that makes this time of year a veritable breeding ground for yelling and hurt feelings. It has become almost expected for families to fight during their holiday meals, and has become so mainstream that holiday family conflicts are the subject of countless movies. If you’re not interested in the drama that has become expected during what is supposed to be season of cheer, peace, and love, take a look at these five tips for dealing with family conflicts.

1)      Don’t overdo it. Though we typically attribute tantrums to our young children, too many activities, in too many places can lead to grumpiness and even outright anger even in the most mature among your brood. Instead of trying to do everything, pick a few fun activities and make sure there is plenty of time for your relatives to decompress and just spend time together. Instead of dragging everyone to the mall to shop for gifts, put the kinds and grandparents in front of a movie and take those who volunteer to get some shopping done.

2)      Be prepared. If you already know that two feuding family members are going to come into contact, have a contingency plan. Whether you don’t allow them to stay in your house or separate them during meals, make sure they don’t have an opportunity to get into it.

3)      You don’t have to get into the middle of it. Sometimes it’s enough to send the fighters out of the room and let them have it out, away from the kids, away from interrupting spouses, parents, and siblings. The influences of all the voices around them can escalate a small disagreement into a major problem in no time at all. Especially if the conflict has nothing to do with you, the best thing to do is send them away from the table until they can be cordial to one another.

4)      Be the peacemaker. If neither separation or sequester work, it may be time for you to step in. Especially if they are making the celebrations uncomfortable for everyone in the house, you can ask them to please act like adults, at least while the kids are watching.

5)      Realize that the holidays are not the time to hash everything out. Holidays are supposed to be fun. They are supposed to be a time of coming together and nostalgia. They should not be the time that the siblings fight about who got what portion of your grandmother’s estate, or who mother loved best, or who stole whose boyfriend in high school. Sometimes family members need to be reminded that your house, during the holiday season is not the place to dredge up old wounds. Especially if you are hosting them in your home, you can tell your family members that they can do this on their own time, on their own turf.

About Darlene

Darlene is passionate and enthusiastic about helping women simplify their lives, develop stress resilience, regain balance, and find happiness, despite the personal storms life throws at them. She has published a popular series of stress management books which focus on simple, practical and healthy stress relief strategies, as well as provide FREE resources and services that help women become more stress-resilient.

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