How to deal with your family during the holidays


The Catalyst / Kate Davidson

Sharing a nice meal should be your only concern at the table.

The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration spent with loved ones. The perception of the holiday season creates an image of perfect families enjoying delicious meals around beautifully decorated tables. However, this is not always the case. Families are far from perfect, and many people have to deal with family members that make the holidays challenging.

There are several things you can do to maintain family harmony and ease the anxieties that come with seeing family during the holiday season.

The school guidance counselors shared some of their best strategies to deal with difficult family members and awkward topics during holiday family get-togethers.

“The strategy that I use is I allow myself to have an exit plan,” said Guidance Counselor Michelle Campusano. “If a topic is brought up that I don’t agree with or a subject arises [that I am uncomfortable with,] I already have in my back pocket the excuse of needing to get up and go to the restroom, or doing something else to leave the area and kind of reset my- self. And then I come back and I’m able to be a little bit more calm and relaxed.”

“[It’s important to know], who your allies are, someone you feel comfortable enough to tell about this disturbing family member, and just know that someone is there for you if there is something that you’re uncomfortable with,’’ said Guidance Counselor Allan Gargaritano. “If you feel like you’re getting uncomfortable, you know you have people to talk to… to feel more safe and to give you some extra support during that time, because sometimes [uncomfortable situations are] unavoidable.”

Although the holidays are meant to be a time to enjoy family and relax, it is a stressful time of year for many. It is important to think about the reasons why coping strategies are necessary to begin with. People are the most difficult when they are facing issues of their own, and their behavior can be due to their own stress. Remember to be kind to family members, since the ones who are the most challenging to deal with are often the ones struggling the most. Handling the situation with empathy and grace helps everyone at the gathering have a more enjoyable time.