According to Brittany Wong, who interviewed family therapists to learn The 7 Most Common Issues Families Have Around the Holidays, family members can cause unnecessary distress to others by:
- Asking intrusive questions.
- Reviving past grievances or arguments.
- Remarking about the behavior of another’s child or the parental response of another person.
- Urging others to marry, have children, make career moves or other life changes.
- Treating younger adults as though they are still children or adolescents.
- Telling stories about others that embarrass them.
Conflict can arise also over who visits whom and over gift giving budgets. Some of these issues can be addressed in calm conversations, well in advance of the holidays, before anyone has become frazzled from the exertions of shopping, baking, or preparing guest rooms. Others cannot be settled in advance, but might be anticipated. Think of ways, if necessary, to politely convey neutrality, redirect a conversation, remove yourself from an uncomfortable situation or request a change.
Of course, you can set a peaceful example and avoid upsetting others by:
- Assuming that if personal information is not offered, the other person would prefer not to share it.
- Leaving the past in the past.
- Recognizing that parenting practices differ.
- Recognizing that if advice is not requested, it is probably not desired.
- Recognizing that young adults have grown up now. They are no longer children.
- Refrain from sharing any stories that might embarrass someone else. If unsure, ask privately.