How do I deal with difficult parents at Christmas?

Caption: Asking a Friend: Dealing with a Dysfunctional Family at Christmas

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Photographer: Madina Asileva
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The most wonderful time of the year? Not when you have a dysfunctional family and a difficult relationship with your hometown.

For people who don’t get along well with their families or who haven’t yet come to terms with the traumas of their past, coming home for Christmas can be less joyful and more stressful.

Spending time in places – or with people – that you associate with difficult memories can be painful and triggering.

Not only that, but some family members can be deliberately provocative, stirring the pot for a reaction.

If staying away from family isn’t an option this year (indeed, many of us feel compelled to visit our families during the holiday season), you should arm yourself with some tips for managing members. difficult family.

How to Deal With Difficult Parents This Christmas

Set boundaries around what you will and won’t discuss that day (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Take a break from social media

Around Christmas, social media is often full of idealized versions of a family Christmas, complete with expensive gifts and immaculate decorations.

“Seeing this will only add to the pressure you feel to make your day perfect,” BrandRated relationship expert Vanessa Cochrane told

“Take a break and I hope you enjoy your real Christmas even more.”

And remember: social media is a highlight reel – it never shows the full picture.

Set clear boundaries

“Just because you can handle something doesn’t mean you should,” Vanessa says.

If there are things you don’t want to discuss, whether it’s money, politics, your love life, or something else, make sure your family members know about it.

“You could make a conscious effort to be more mindful and consume less negative news, for example, but it won’t be easy if everyone around you wants to talk about it,” Vanessa continues.

“Set your boundaries and remind your family what topics are off limits, and that should minimize potential arguments.”

To ask questions

If your family isn’t one to respect boundaries, make sure you’re prepared to hijack conversations when they get uncomfortable.

“Take a breath and keep your tone calm, and let them have their opinion first without reacting,” Vanessa says.

“You may want to fix the problem, but sometimes that can only add fuel to the fire rather than calm it.”

“Ask questions to help understand their point of view, rather than to defend yourself.

“Being curious and calm will help avoid aggression and get to the root of the problem without upsetting.”

appy guy in outerwear with corgi dog is going to carry christmas tree, get ready to celebrate Christmas and New Year. Hand drawn color vector illustration isolated on light background. Flat cartoon style.

Take time for yourself (Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Take a break

You don’t have to spend your entire Christmas vacation tripping up family members – there’s no shame in taking some time for yourself.

Vanessa suggests planning activities, like a game of charades or a Christmas craft, that everyone can participate in while you get away for ten minutes to give yourself a break.

“If the tension rises, suggest everyone get some fresh air and go for a walk,” she adds.

“A change of scenery can be very helpful after being confined to the house together from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day.”

She also suggests setting a time limit on how much time you spend with certain family members you know are hard to be around.

“Clock this moment with friends or family who take you up instead of down,” she says.

put yourself first

Finally, don’t be afraid to take care of yourself (someone has to).

“You know what you can and can’t cope with,” Vanessa says.

“Put yourself first and don’t be afraid to say no to invitations, especially from toxic family members, which will put you in a stressful situation and damage your mental health.”

This can also apply to exchanging gifts when you don’t have enough money.

“Say no or suggest a Secret Santa with as low a budget as possible, so everyone always gets a gift with a lot less pressure than shopping for everyone,” Vanessa explains.

“With a strict budget, you can prevent a parent from saying they spent more on your gift than you spent.”

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