Kay Simmeth Counseling Group

Individual and Relational Counseling, EMDR Therapy and Consulting

Top 10 Ways to Get Through Tense Family Gatherings

Let’s face it. Family gatherings are not always roses and cotton candy. For some families, they’re masked balls, with everyone straining to maintain a façade of harmony. For others, they’re Wild West shootouts. Try some of these tips.

  1. Make a pro-and-con list. Clear your head, find a calm moment and decide whether it is best for you to go.
  2. Consider smaller portions. Plan to visit only for appetizers or dessert.
  3. Educate yourself. Seek information on the issues or dynamics that tend to come up in your family.
  4. Dig deeper. How do you contribute to the tension? Can you adjust your understanding of other points of view?
  5. Seek to understand. Get to the heart of things by asking questions in a relaxed, open, non-defensive way. Read Sharon Ellison’s Taking the War Out of Our Words or Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.
  6. Be prepared. Holiday-related emotions may arrive early. Recognizing the source can help you deal with them more effectively.
  7. Take care of yourself. If the atmosphere isn’t safe, leave. Gather with friends, do volunteer work or pamper yourself.
  8. Call a friend. Debrief after the visit with someone you trust.
  9. Be patient. Real change — in you and in your family — takes time.
  10. Be gracious. Aim for maturity and compassion in dealing with family situations.

Also helpful for managing holiday stress are these “Mindful Meditations.“. If you can, spend a few minutes each day taking the time to practice one of these.

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