Christmas is quickly approaching and with it the inevitable interaction with difficult family members. Whether the difficulty is from alcohol, personality differences or even mental health disorders, the facts are that the holidays mean family interaction.
I doubt there’s a family without drama anywhere in the world. If there was, I would say “sign me up,” but I would ruin their peace with my own drama.
The following are my survival techniques for getting through family gatherings:
- Know who’s going to be there. Ask if you don’t know, because it’s better to not be completely caught off guard when someone very difficult shows up that you didn’t expect. I learned this the hard way.
- Agree with your immediate family or husband on a keyword to use when you’re ready to go. My husband and I agreed on the word overload, because it is already a code word in our house for when something is too much. But we didn’t need it. All it took was one look between my husband and I, and we knew it was time to leave.
- Eat before you go so that you’re not forced to stay at the table or wait for dinner instead of leaving if things get nasty. Food on your stomach also means you’re less likely to be short-tempered when someone is baiting you.
- Remember how much you have been forgiven and how far Jesus has brought you. This truly is key for giving people grace. If you focus on how undeserving you are of God’s grace you’re much more likely to give it to other people.
- Remember Jesus example: when he was mistreated he didn’t retaliate.
- Be wise: if you can extricate yourself from a difficult or stressful situation gracefully, do it. Don’t be afraid of leaving if you need to –even if it upsets people.
- Remember that they only thing you can control is your own behavior. You can’t control other people. You have no control over what they say or do, only over what you say and do.
- At the end of the day, make sure that you have a clear conscience about your behavior regardless of what anyone else has done. Make sure you know you honored God with your actions.
These things have helped me deal with difficult family situations. Remember that sometimes family drama is less about what the other person is doing and more about what God is trying to teach you. Don’t miss the lesson or He might choose to reteach it by putting you in an even more challenging situation!