For some people, the song “I’ll be home for Christmas,” is a bright and warm reminder of all the fond memories of the Christmas season. For others, family is a blatant reminder of the annual conflict session that arises between family members when visiting around the Christmas season. Familiar patterns of conflict can arise when deciding where the family is going to spend the night, how long you decide to stay or not to stay, and a number of other issues. Conflict with family sometimes is inevitable, but to minimize the stress of it all, here are four ways to keep healthy boundaries with family around the holidays.
Make a Schedule
Before traveling across the state or across the country, make a schedule of where you will be going to visit and how long you plan to stay with each member of the family. With an established schedule in place, family members may not like the idea, but at least they know your intentions. This will eliminate some of the annual complaining.
Plan Where to Sleep
The biggest conflict that comes up when my wife and I visit extended family around the holidays is where we end up staying the night. Each year, my grandparents from both sides of the family, try to persuade and argue about where we will stay. We have eliminated a lot of this drama by making a plan and making sure that everyone knows where we are staying before we even arrive. As we make this plan, we typically try to stay with one side on one trip, then at the other side on the next trip. The whole process is a bit like teaching children to take turns.
Stay on Neutral Ground
One healthy option that has worked with visiting family in the past is to plan on staying at a hotel that’s near your family for that weekend. Different family members can feel stressed with just the idea of staying at the in-laws house around the holidays. My family and I have eliminated this point of stress by staying at a nearby hotel. There are many great family friendly hotels that have great pools for children, hot tubs, and fun areas that can provide a de-stressing period to wind down from the family drama. If you have family in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN area then consider one of the many Shakopee Minnesota hotels that are available around the holidays that offer affordable rates and suite rooms that work well for families of all sizes.
Exercise Fruits of the Spirit
Family conflict always seems to come and sometimes it is unavoidable. Whether you believe in it or not, the Bible has some helpful insight for this area with a passage from Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.”
Here are a few tips that can be extracted from this passage:
- Love – Choose to love your family, even if the family is arguing or complaining or using profanity.
- Joy – Deliberately take the time and effort to verbally express how you are happy to see each member of the family and take the time to share something that you are thankful for in each person.
- Peace – Choose not to engage in arguments that may flare up with family. This doesn’t mean avoiding conflict completely, stand up for your family and defend your healthy boundaries if you need to, but don’t go out looking to engage in the arguing or gossip.
- Patience (forbearance) – All families require different levels of patience. This applies to everybody.
- Kindness – Be kind to each member of your family and speak to them with respect.
- Goodness – Be kind to the host and hostess by throwing away your trash, respecting their home and their rules, especially if you choose to sleep overnight.
- Faithfulness – It should go without saying, but be faithful to your family and commit to attending the Christmas party each year, commit to spending time with each member of the family and talk with them about their lives.
- Gentleness – When talking to family, avoid using “that tone”. You know which one I’m talking about. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, all have a tone of voice that can raise the tension in the room simply by using the wrong tone and inflection in your voice. Avoid saying things in a way that will anger or offend other members of the family.
- Self Control – There are many ways that self control can apply here. Exercise self control in what you say and how you say it. Live out self control by limiting the amount of food and desserts that you eat, to set an example to live both verbally and physically. Self control can also be extended to showing emotional understanding and support even when those around you can be up to their usual bag of tricks.
No matter where you travel or what family you spend time with this holiday season, establishing healthy boundaries can help eliminate some of the stress and conflict and lead to a happier holiday visit.
About the Author
Chris Wensink is the Director of Information Technology for Heyde Companies, owners of the Americas Best Value Inn and Suites of Shakopee, MN. He is a husband, and father of two children, living in Chippewa Falls, WI. For more information about the Amenities of Americas Best Value Inn and Suites visit their Shakopee Americas Best Value Inn Page here.