Dealing with Difficult Relatives during the Holidays

Extended family relations around the holidays can become an occasion for unpleasant interactions.


Social gatherings for Thanksgiving, holiday parties, Christmas and New Year's Day dinners, can force you into uncomfortable face-offs with some members of the family. Here are some guidelines to help you deal with annoying--sometimes to the extreme--relatives.

• Be polite and respectful. Remind yourself this is the only occasion you need to see them on. You can pleasantly tolerate their presence for a few short hours.

• If you find it impossible to have a pleasant conversation, avoid them. Make your hellos and goodbyes civil though.

• Talk to your parents about your discomfort. Knowing they are aware of your frustration level will make you feel less isolated.

• Find other activities. Work on a school project, visit a friend, or have them over to get you away from the relative.

• Discover why you dislike them. Pinpointing the reasons they upset you will help you cope. If the issue is unresolvable don't try communicating with them.

• Understand why you clash with them. Temperament, core values, prejudicial differences can lead to conflicts between you. Knowing which topics to avoid, and limiting your visit with them can head off violent arguments.

• Don't feel obligated. You needn't feel committed to spending more time than is necessary with a visiting relative.

• Accept them. Realize you can't change them, but you can adjust your own attitude towards them. Make your visit brief and move on to mingle with other relatives you get along with better.

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