Really, there is one in every family. The uncle who consistently asks inappropriate questions, the aunt without kids who is only helping with her expert childrearing tips, or the cousin with extreme political views who insists on a debate during holiday meals. Fortunately we can choose our friends. Relatives we need to learn to live with; the good, the bad, the irritating, the encouraging, the hurtful, and the helpful.
As a parent, the holidays can be pretty stressful for a variety of reasons. A list a mile long is enough pressure. Add in family members who are causing restless nights or tension headaches and a person can easily be overwhelmed. Here are a few suggestions to relieve the angst.
• Prepare your heart for the occasion. Pray for the right words to be spoken and affection for the person. Ask the Lord to take away the anxiety, soften your heart, reveal your brokenness in the relationship, and a willingness to forgive past grievances.
• Have a verse or two in mind to focus on if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Love is patient, love is kind (1 Corinthians 13:4a) or This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:17). Remember God made everyone in His image, even the irritating family member.
• If you’re hosting, take the time to greet everyone at the door. Assign tasks to each guest. Working with others may help relieve the tension. If you’re a guest, ask for a job to help out the hostess.
• Stay on neutral ground. If the conversation slides toward an uncomfortable topic or a conflict, change the subject with a question. Speak kindly.
• Choose humor as a response rather than sarcasm, anger, or silence.
• Seat the children with the adults for multigenerational conversations.
• Pray at the table as a group to bless the food, family, and fellowship at the holiday meal.
• Keep in mind your children are watching how you relate to family members. They learn to be compassionate and kind when they see Mom and Dad treating others with respect. Kindness is the best strategy.
With the holidays a couple weeks away, don’t spend time dreading family events. Give that difficult relationship to the Lord. He’s a Heart Healer, Relationship Reconciler, and Attitude Adjuster.
Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up.
How do you handle difficult relationships with family members?
By Becky Danielson
Wife to Scott, Mom of 2
Co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting
If you’re feeling the pressure of the holidays, please take a few minutes with a hot cup of coffee to read the blog posts listed here from the 1 Corinthians team members and guests. Their words will encourage you!
Don’t Streamline Christmastime by Lori Wildenberg
I Have No Margin by Pete Larson
4 Ways a Single Parent can Move from Humbug to Hallelujah by Misty Honnold
7 Healthy Holiday Tips by Sommer Crayton