Coping with Family Conflict During the Holidays

If the thought of spending time with family this holiday season makes you want to run the other way, here are some tips for coping

The holiday season is not the time to address family conflicts

For some, going home for the holidays is very stressful, especially in families where there are unresolved conflicts

Negative feelings such as anger, resentment and mistrust put a strain not only on the conflicted individuals but on the whole family, overshadowing what should be a joyous occasion with a cloud of unhappy anticipation of potential problems.

Strategies for Managing Family Conflict during the Holidays

The holiday season is not the time to address conflicts. If you know you are going home for the holidays, try to resolve things before you go. Be the first to step up and ask to meet to discuss the problem and find a resolution. Try to go in to the meeting with patience and an open mind, and take time to listen carefully.

Sometimes an apology and acceptance (from either or both sides) is all it takes to begin to help heal old wounds and start afresh.

Realistically, sometimes the nature of the person you’re in conflict with makes it impossible to discuss anything, in which case, you may wish to make a conscious decision to forgive the other person (whether you think they deserve it or not) and let go of lingering anger and resentment so you can feel happy.

Tip: Family counsellors can be an invaluable resource when it comes to dealing with family conflicts. Don’t be afraid to consult a professional for helpful advice.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.