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8 Tops Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving with the Dysfunctional Family

Posted by Mark Nolte on Nov 17, 2015 11:16:09 AM
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8 Tops Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving with the Dysfunctional Family

 When George Burns the famous comedian (who live to be 100 years old) was asked what he was most thankful for when spending time with the family at Thanksgiving. He said “he was thankful that he was not going to have to see these people again until this time next year.”


One of the hardest times of the year is spending Thanksgiving with the dysfunctional family. So I researched and come up with the top 8 best tips in surviving Thanksgiving with the dysfunctional family. Here they are:

  1.        Nowhere is it written that there shall be alcohol whenever a family gets together. If there are problem drinkers in the family, let everyone know ahead of time that you are holding an alcohol-free party. Serve sparkling cider and an interesting non-alcoholic punch. People in your family who can’t stand being at a gathering without an alcoholic haze will probably leave early or decline the invitation. Everyone else will be spared another holiday ruined by someone’s inability to handle their drinking. *
  2.         Invite “buffers.” Most people’s manners improve when outsiders enter the scene. If you can count on your family to put their best feet forward for company, invite some. (If not, don’t.) There are always people who would love a place to go on holidays or who would like to experience a real American Thanksgiving. Think about elderly people in your church or community whose grown children live far away, or divorced friends whose kids are with the other parent this year, or foreign exchange students from your local high school or college. *
  3.        Eliminate Politics from the Dinner Table Discussion:
    When you are together at Thanksgiving, the elder’s advice, make contentious political arguments out of bounds. These types of conflicts are simply unnecessary. Often, the urge is to make your loved ones “really understand” what’s going on in society and to show them how irrational or wrong-headed they are politically. Get your family to make it a rule to take noisy and unnecessary political debates off the table. Remember, we’re not talking here about a lively, enjoyable political discussion; they mean the kind that ends with slamming doors and a spouse crying in the car.
  4.        Don’t Try to Fix Each Other’s Life at Thanksgiving:
    When it comes to parents relating to their adult children, the elders are unequivocal: Let them live their own lives. They sum up this principle as: Don’t interfere unless they ask for your help.
  5.         Provide escape routes. Togetherness is not for everyone. Make sure there are ways for the shyer or more intimidated to get away from the crowd. If most people will be watching football, set up a movie in another room for those who want out. Ask for help in the kitchen to give the overwhelmed person a graceful way to withdraw from the bore who is boring her. Set up a jigsaw puzzle on a card table in a corner so that people who don't want to be part of the conversation have a way to occupy themselves and still be part of the party. Suggest a before- or after-dinner walk for people who need a breather. *
  6.        Adjust your attitude – go into the Thanksgiving holiday with a positive attitude. Yes it has not been fun in the past. But maybe this year it will be different…stay open minded. Think positive!
  7.        Remind Yourself Why You Are Doing It:
    This final tip. Tell yourself this: the effort to accommodate your family is one of the greatest gifts you can offer – both to them, and to yourself. The closest thing to a “magic bullet” for motivating yourself to put the effort into a Thanksgiving gathering. It is to remember that you are doing it because you love your family. Talking about in-laws, you may not like your in-laws very much but you certainly can love them and stay close to them. Stepping back and taking this larger view can get you through the pumpkin pie with a minimum of stress.
  8.         After everyone leaves, reward yourself. Sink into your favorite chair and give yourself credit (and an extra piece of pie?) for trying to make a difference. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to make significant change in the habits and attitudes of a dysfunctional family. Any small step in the right direction is something to be thankful for. Good for you! *

*by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

If that is not enough to get you through the Thanksgiving holiday. Then maybe you may want to consider getting some extra help by having a quick online counseling session to get you through the holiday. It is something that can be easily done by just using your laptop computer, tablet or smart phone to have access to a great life coach or counseling.

If you would like to learn more about online counseling and how it works. Just click on the blue button below.

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Topics: Relationships