Here's how to cope with difficult relatives over Christmas

Every family has a difficult member who just can’t help but spoil the Christmas get-together. Though they may do it unintentionally, the harm is done, and the mood is down. Luckily, these useful tips can help you cope with any provocation.

Here's how to cope with difficult relatives over Christmas
© Photo by RODNAE Productions on
Here's how to cope with difficult relatives over Christmas

Most families have relatives who can make them dread Christmas get-togethers.Awkward and hurtful questions, tantrums, and money quarrels are just a few things that spoil ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.

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For people who don’t get on well with their family, or have yet to overcome trauma from their past, going home for Christmas can be less cheerful and more stressful. If staying away from your family isn’t an option this year, here are some life hacks for dealing with its difficult members.

Be clear about the boundaries

Set your boundaries and remind your family what topics are off-limits to minimise potential arguments.

Just because you can put up with something, doesn’t mean you should. If there are certain things you don’t want to discuss, whether it’s money, politics, your love life or something else, make sure your family members know this.

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Divert conversations

If your family isn’t the boundary-respecting type, make sure you’re ready to divert conversations when they get uncomfortable.

Vanessa Cochrane, a relationship expert at BrandRated, advises to ‘take a breath and keep your tone calm’, and first let a nosy family member have their opinion without reacting.

She adds:

You might want to address the issue, but sometimes that can only add fuel to the fire rather than calming it down. Ask questions to help understand their point, rather than defending yourself. Being curious and calm will help to avoid aggression and get to the root of the issue without raising tempers.
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Take a breather

You don’t have to spend the entirety of your Christmas break around triggering family members.

Plan some activities, like a game of charades or a Christmassy craft, that everyone can get involved in while you slip away for ten minutes to give yourself a break.

If the tension is rising, suggest everyone get some fresh air and go for a walk.

It can also be useful to set a limit on how long you will spend with certain family members that you know are difficult to be around.

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Have a break from social media

Social media offers idealised versions of family Christmas, with expensive gifts and immaculate decorations.

Seeing this will only add to the pressure you feel to make your day perfect. Take a break from it, and hopefully, you will appreciate your real Christmas more.

Sources used:

- Metro: 'Asking For A Friend: How can I cope with difficult relatives on Christmas?'

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