Visiting Your Crazy Family For Christmas? Dysfunctional Families And The Holidays. Who doesn’t have a dysfunctional family? That’s a rhetorical question. Having a “normal” family can be considered dysfunctional. But seriously, dysfunctional families can be detrimental to emotional well-being and we all know what I’m talking about. As a Marriage Counselor, the Holidays present a very stressful time for couples. Spending time with in-laws is especially difficult if you “have to spend time” with the in-laws. I hear the “we always spend time with your family” and “hardly ever spend time with mine.” Power struggles tend to come up during the Holidays and they can turn the event and your relationship into a very unhappy situation.
Tips to get through the obligatory Family Get-Together:
- First of all, you don’t need anyone’s permission to say, “NO, I prefer not to go”.
- To avoid power struggles it’s perfectly fine for each of you to go to your own family’s home for the holidays and enjoy their company without each other.
- With that being said….be careful about resentments from past holidays. Declare an amnesty with whichever family member you are feeling past resentments toward.
- Avoid the person that bugs you. Be gracious with a greeting then stay the heck away from them. Don’t even establish eye contact.
- Develop and utilize coping skills when you are triggered. You can excuse yourself, take a walk, do some deep breathing, go to the bathroom for a timeout, remind yourself to stay in the ‘moment’, stretch your arms over your head to release tension, or leave at a set time.
- If you choose to drink, don’t let the occasion become a reason for over-indulging to cope. This will exacerbate your depression and anxiety, as well as disable your ability to utilize your coping skills. Contrary to popular opinion, alcohol is a depressant. But I understand why you would want to DRINK!
- To offset that day give yourself a break. Create time for yourself to do the things YOU love and need to do for your physical and mental wellness, like aerobic exercise, yoga, take in a massage, taking long fast walks or any activity that calms you down and gives you a better perspective on what is important in your life.
Attending family obligations are sometimes necessary to show the ones we love we care about them as a selfless act. We love our family but some of us don’t necessarily like all of them. Just take care of yourself while you’re in their company.