Usually around Thanksgiving, we visit my in-laws since they live closer, but this year, my wife wants to visit my parents, who live two states away. This is a bit nerve-racking since I’m not on the best terms with them. My mother is still somewhat upset that I married so young and my father is very vocal about me not becoming an engineer like my uncles and he. They bring this up each time we visit. In the past, tensions flared and we’ve ended up going our separate ways after family get-togethers. We once went almost five months without talking to each other. I really hate this since I love my parents dearly, but I can’t help but worry that if we visit, it’ll be the same thing all over again. What makes it worse is that we’ll be staying for a few days instead of just one night like we have in the past. What can I do to ensure a more easy-going environment when we visit?
Thanksgiving is a holiday that countless Americans love, mostly for the delicious food and having a designated time of year to give thanks, but also because it’s a time to reunite with long-distance family members. These moments are special and full of memories for many families, but for others, get-togethers can be filled with anger, annoyance or even hate, all due to tense situations between loved ones. Read on to learn some common causes of tension during these events and what you can do to help alleviate or prevent them.
Rice Psychology Group knows how important your family members are to you and want nothing more than to see everyone get along. Contact us to learn how we can help you.
All families experience tension and anger at some point. It’s normal and most of the time, all is forgiven and everyone moves on. However, what about other situations where things are said or done that have long-lasting repercussions? If a family member feels that she/he has been wronged or hurt, they may have trouble forgiving and forgetting. Other times, a person may be unaware that their behavior is causing discomfort.All families experience tension and anger at some point. Click To Tweet
During get-togethers, some family members may bring up past incidents where they were hurt, act out, irritate others with their opinions or act brash due to alcohol. However, this may not always be the case. Other times, family members might not be consciously aware of how they’re acting around others. They may:
- Indulge in irresponsible speech or actions that make others feel uncomfortable. This can result in others feeling emotionally hurt by what this person is saying or doing.
- Anger easily to the point of making a scene. They may also overreact in proportion to whatever it was that caused their reaction in the first place.
- Cause others around them to feel uncomfortable or less happy or emotionally drained as a result of expecting an outburst or inappropriate behavior.
- Be extremely opinionated to the point of causing familial discomfort with disregard to others’ views. Politics or social issues tend to cause these feelings.
- Want to constantly be at the center of attention, doing or saying whatever necessary to accomplish this. This can include being extremely vocal about being left out of activities or conversations others are having.
- Hold arguments that last longer than they should.
- Continuously bring up past mistakes against them or incidents for the sake of “playing the victim”.
Easing or Preventing TensionMake it known to all family members which topics of conversation are out-of-bounds. Click To Tweet
If you’ve ever dealt with family members who make others feel uneasy during holiday gatherings, know that there are several things we feel might help:
- Consider whether it is best to ignore them. If anything, turning a blind eye can cause even more tension. Sometimes it’s best to gently bring their behavior to their attention and explain that it is not okay.
- Set up boundaries:
- The Boundaries of Time: Make your celebrations shorter with a clear start and end time. To help with late arriving relatives, set a time when Thanksgiving dinner will start. If you decide on 7:00 PM, start it then and there. Don’t wait for late family members known for making dramatic entrances.
- What is Okay to Talk About: Make it known to all family members which topics of conversation are out-of-bounds. As we mentioned above, this can include politics, social issues or past family incidents. If a person disagrees, ask them to leave if you are the host or leave if you are the guest and feel uncomfortable.
- Who Can Attend: For some families, gatherings may have reached a point of needing to celebrate Thanksgiving without a specific family member unless they can act appropriately.
- Don’t tolerate irresponsible behaviors like drinking that could result in irresponsible actions. If you’re hosting dinner, it is reasonable to ask that guests respect your rules. If you’re a guest, remember that you don’t have to be privy to uncomfortable environments.
We Want to Help
Dealing with irrational family members is an all-too-common problem. Rice Psychology Group wants to help you deal with loved ones acting irrationally in a rational manner. If you feel that our comfortable environment and team of psychologists can help you come up with some ideas on dealing with troublesome family members on Thanksgiving or any get-together, then contact us in Tampa today.