Tips for Family Harmony During the Holiday Season

Traditions play an important role in families. Most of us feel the holidays are a good time to come together and reinforce those traditions. Some look forward to these gatherings, while others approach them with great trepidation—especially when sibling rivalries, lingering conflicts, or concerns over the health and welfare of aging parents cast a shadow over family events.

What’s the best way to deal with unresolved family issues during the holidays? Here are a few tips that may help you navigate difficult family dynamics.

Keep in mind that you are visiting family to celebrate a holiday. It is a temporary stop and not the time to try and repair all family issues in a matter of hours. Keep things as positive as possible, whether you are just popping into town for a few hours or staying for a few days. Remind yourself that the best way to influence change in others is to lead by example.

  • Try using “I statements” verses “you should” statements. Using “You should” statements makes the other person feel threatened.
  • Remember you can’t change people. You can only change your reaction to them.
  • Try understanding others through the eyes of empathy. How would you feel if you were in their shoes?
  • Listen more than you talk (Listening also fosters empathy).
  • Let go of your filters and allow your loved ones to change.
  • Pay attention to your own triggers. It’s okay to pause, go to the restroom and BREATH.
  • Lead by humility. In other words, address your own shortcomings and focus on improving your own behavior first.
  • Be aware of how your attitude and behavior toward other family members can affect both young children and aging relatives.
  • Picture that perfect holiday in your mind, and let go of the assumption of who is going to say what and how they will act.
  • As your family grows, accept that new traditions will come and some traditions will fade. Embrace the present and let go of the past.
  • Allow change! Understand that change will happen: YOU make a choice as to how.
    • Evolutionary: All things change. We will get older, and if you never move you’ll get dusty.
    • Induced: You experience something significant that causes a change in your attitude or behavior.
    • Proactive: By your design and choice.

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and joyous holiday season!

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