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The Family Tension Tango

The Family Tension Tango

The holidays. The time when “everyone” in the family gets together. For most of us this probably brings up a lot of great memories and feelings of joy and happiness. Others of us may experience these feelings but also some feelings of hesitation and the awful thought of uncle or grandma [fill in the blank] being around. Dread may put a cloud over your holiday plans.

You can’t avoid that they will be around and could never live with yourself if you told them not to come at all, so what do you do?

To show grit means setting boundaries. You are not superwoman. You do not have to be all things to all people. You do not have to tell your extended family all of your holiday plans and events. You decide when they come and for how long. You do not have to make excuses. Your worth is not at all affected by their reaction to this. Stay strong. Your sanity and your immediate family come first.

To show grace means finding a way to show love. They are still human beings. While balancing your own needs and keeping your boundaries, how can you treat them in a way that may bring out their better side? As difficult as they may be, at the end of the day you want to know that you did your part. They may grumble and complain or say harsh words you don’t deserve. It is a bit morbid, but think about this person on their deathbed…does this change how you think about them? As horrible as they may be in the present, does that thought change how you might interact with them now? This could be as simple as a text to say hi or a card. Little things can go a long way.

To show grit means setting boundaries … To show grace means finding a way to show love.

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One of the most important things you can do is learn from their mistakes. As you grow older and have children of your own, remember the situations you were in as a kid or a young parent that were hard to navigate because of difficult family dynamics. What was challenging for you then? Don’t do the same thing to those around you that caused you to struggle. Your kids will follow after you and learn to start more healthy family patterns.

For more on how to handle family dynamics during the holidays, read Being a Child of Divorce – at the HolidaysLoosen Your Grip on Technology and Enjoy a Hands-Free Holidayand 5 Tips for Enjoying Your Holiday in the Midst of Get-Togethers


Tina is a single, tie-dye sporting, tenacious lover of adventure and the outdoors, torn between the mountains and the ocean.

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