Stephanie Clark from The Atlanta Counseling Group is here to give you her best advice on how to enjoy family during the holidays.

Clark, LMFT, LPC, Stephanie_cred herself

Why are holidays tough to be around family?

For some families, expectations around the holidays are often very different for each member. We become attached to our holiday traditions and rituals. When those events don’t go as planned, perhaps because of a new family member or the loss of one, it can make the holiday emotionally difficult.

What tips can help deal with a difficult family member? 

Keep things light and pleasant. Steer away from controversial subjects and issues. Acknowledge emotionally painful memories if you must, but don’t wallow in them – it’s not the time or place. On the other hand, acting like the painful stuff never happened can make matters worse. Acknowledge it, apologize if appropriate, and keep it moving. Focus on the “here and now.”

How can someone handle conflict with a family member during the holidays?

Acting like the painful stuff never happened can make matters worse. Acknowledge emotionally painful memories, apologize if appropriate and keep it moving. Focus on the “here and now.”

What tips can diffuse family conflict during the holidays? 

1. Control your emotions. Remain as calm and non-defensive as possible. 2. Talk privately. This reduces the possibility others will be pulled into the conflict. 3. Try to validate the issues of the conflict that matter most to the other person. Letting them know you understand their complaint will go far to diffuse the heightened emotion. 4. Suggest setting a different time and location to meet and discuss. Commit to it.

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