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Preventing Family Blow-ups

Updated: Aug 23, 2018

The holidays breed family drama. One dinner as a kid had my cousin swinging at my Uncle. Eek! 

Repeat after me: You cannot control anyone else. You can only control your response. Here are some tips to help make sure your response doesn't lead to regret.

Have realistic expectations. If Uncle Marvin makes rude comments every year, assume this will happen again. It will sting less if you accept it as inevitable.

Be grateful. As hard as this may sound, think of three things that you are grateful for about whoever dives you crazy. Better yet, share at least one with them.

Make it into a game. Make a list of the ridiculous things that might happen at the event. Share with your partner and turn it into a drinking game (or just give each other a wink if you want to limit alcohol).

Avoid contentious situations. If you know that cousin Sue always pushes your buttons, try to sit on the opposite end of the table as her. Create a safe word with your partner to help you bail out of conversations.

Assume good intentions. Even if someone is trying to rile you up, pretend that they have the best of intentions and re-frame the comment as a compliment. 'Thanks for caring so much about my health to comment on my eating habits. I'll definitely consider it.'

Have an escape plan. Pick 2 or 3 things you can do for yourself if you start getting worked up. Go for a walk, take a deep breath, do something helpful for someone else -- just get out of the situation and do something positive!

Take a deep breath. Print out your game rules. You've got this.

Family reunion could be crazy sometimes, but you can lessen the gathering blues by following our helpful tips.


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