No matter how much you love your family, you’re bound to have some differences of opinion. If you’re lucky, those differences of opinion can lead to some spirited but harmless debates. If you’re unlucky… Let’s just say they can lead to some tense family situations. This is why I’m writing about how you can make it through those tense situations with your sanity intact with the holidays coming up.
Accept your differences
The first thing you’ll need to do is reach some sort of acceptance regarding your family. I’m not saying you have to condone any beliefs they may have. What I am saying is that you should try your best to accept that you can’t change their mind in a single afternoon.
Coming to terms with that and just trying to accept them as they are is going to be the most peaceful way forward. If you’re emotionally prepared to debate and argue for hours on end, you can go right ahead, but that’s on you. I’m here to help you get through tense family situations as smoothly as possible.
If someone is set in their ways, it is incredibly difficult to convince them of anything that contradicts their preconceived notions, even if you have facts to back them up. (Seriously, studies show that facts proving us wrong don’t change our minds).
Choose your battles carefully
When there are tense family situations, it’s easy to get riled up around certain people, no matter their actions. Even if you aren’t the one picking the fights, it’s just not worth it to start arguing every time you see Uncle Fred. As much as it sucks, sometimes you’ll be better off just swallowing your words.
Keeping quiet doesn’t make them right, but it does help protect you emotionally, which is important if you want to hold onto any semblance of peace. As much as I want to be able to give you magic advice that will make your family members agree with you 100% of the time, I can’t. Sometimes people won’t listen, especially when they’re related to you.
It’s exhausting to get into a conflict every time you see someone. Especially when it’s around the holidays and other people will be watching. That’s why you should conserve your energy for the times you’ll need it most.
Avoid bringing up certain topics
Nothing gets people upset more quickly than bringing up politics or religion. It’s great if everyone agrees with you, but most of the time, that isn’t going to be the case. Divisive topics you know will make someone say something out of line should just be dropped altogether.
If those topics get brought up, do your best not to engage. From personal experience, that can also be pretty tough, but better to grumble about it now rather than get into a screaming match later, right?
Blood is thicker than water, except when it’s not
Lastly, there are times when you need to cut your losses.
Did you know the saying “blood is thicker than water” is supposed to mean that your friends are more important than the people you’re related to? The full phrase is “blood of the covenant is thicker than water of the womb.” This means that the people you truly bond with are the ones you should care about over those you happen to have blood ties to.
I’m not telling you to abandon your family. Family is important. A lot of the time, they’re the only ones you can turn to in times of crisis. That’s unfortunately not always the case, though. Sometimes things happen between family members, making it hard to trust or rely on them.
Most of the time, our support system is made up of our family but not always. The people who care about you aren’t always the ones related to you, and that’s fine. As long as you have people in your corner, that’s all that matters. If your family members don’t support you, you don’t have to waste your breath on them.
You don’t have to put yourself through a hard time just to appease your family if they don’t even have your best interest at heart.
If you’ve read this far and are about to spend time with someone else’s family, check out our guide on spending the holidays with a partner’s family. Even if you’re not worried about that upcoming visit, it never hurts to be prepared.
Sign up for our newsletter!
How do you deal with tense family situations? Share your strategy in the comments below, and make sure you sign up for our newsletter! It’s a short monthly email with updates about the Everyday Owl and highlights from our best blogs.
We have new blogs every week so check back soon for relationship advice, mental health tips, and more. (You can also follow us on social media!)