During this holiday season, some of us are eagerly anticipating seeing family. And some of us are dreading it.
This is for those who are dreading it. The ones who have challenging relationships with their families.
I want to say it is quite ok if your relationship with family isn’t the best. And explaining to friends and colleagues why you dread the holidays can be hard sometimes…they just might not understand.
So this is to those of us who have complicated families…I see you.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help manage your holidays with family:
1. Find an ally
If you have someone in your family who you trust and feel safe with, reach out to the person. You can share your worries with the person. Perhaps you can come up with a gameplan for how that person can support you (e.g. occasional check-ins, go on walking breaks with them, etc.).
2. Strategically spending time with family
Maybe you will spend less time with family. Perhaps you’ll go to one gathering only. Or perhaps arrive a bit later or leave a bit earlier. Or maybe you can take breaks during the gatherings…going for a walk, calling a friend, etc. Or maybe it is just about limiting your contact with one particular family member that you find particularly challenging. Heck, even taking breaks to look at photos of your cat while you’re with family might be helpful!
3. Find your own meaning for the holidays
Perhaps the holidays is about chosen family, rather than blood family. Or perhaps it is a time for self-love and a little bit of guilt-free pampering. Or even a celebration of your existence outside of patriarchal heteronormative family systems and expectations. Finding your own meaning can help with the dread of the holidays.
4. Have your own place to stay
If you have to travel out of town to see family, it can be helpful to find your own place to stay at. This can be friend’s home, the home of a relative that you feel comfortable with, hotel, Airbnb…whatever works best for you. Having a bit of separation can be very helpful.
5. Remind everyone why we’re here
Sometimes, family will try to pick fights with you. It’ll be hard, but avoiding their invitation to fight might be the best way to go about it. What might help is to remind your family that you’re all here to spend some quality time together. Here are some examples of things you can say that might be helpful. Change them up as you see fit.
“So we’re all here to enjoy our time as a family. We can spend this time talking about things that are unhappy, or we can try our best to enjoy our time together. Why don’t we try our best to enjoy our time together?”
“You know, that might not be a topic I want to talk about. So how’s your daughter doing?”
The holidays can be a stressful time. Find time and take care of yourself!
As always, thanks for tuning in. If you found this helpful, share with your peeps. You can also get my free Asian Survival Guide.
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Therapy for Asians
MSW, RSW | he/him
I help Asians go from feeling trapped to becoming self-liberated.