Recently, I wrote a blog, 3 Things to Remember When Young Adult Kids Are Home for the Holidays. While that certainly covered some potential challenges during the holiday season, I’d like to address some other sticky situations and offer some suggestions on how to handle rambunctious relatives during the holidays.
Every family has relationships that are difficult. Some people just have the knack of getting under the skin of others easily. Here are some tips on how to handle holidays with family in your home. I’ve organized them by types of relatives with handy nicknames that are not intended to resemble anyone in particular, but you’ll recognize someone for sure!
Judy is the relative that is always telling everyone what someone else is doing wrong, usually behind their backs. Sometimes you might even agree with Judy, but that doesn’t make it easier. Be ready to gently remind Judy that you’re not going to listen to constant judgments about others. And try to change the subject to some positive observations about her and others that you can appreciate together.
Paul is the relative that has no filter for obscenities around children or mixed company. Instead of reacting with anger and demands for better behavior, be proactive. Talk to Paul ahead of time and let him know that you want to create a safe and comfortable environment for everyone and that you’re expecting him to be careful with his words. Give him a “three strike” rule (playfully, but firmly) that lets him know a slip of the tongue won’t cost him but a run of careless words just might.
Carrie is living with her boyfriend. They are coming from out-of-town and wondering if they can crash at your place. Let her know that, while you realize her choices and consequences are hers to own, you simply can’t condone what she’s choosing by letting her come and stay with him under your roof. Offer to help her find other accommodations.
This is the in-law that treats you like you’re a Hatfield and he’s a McCoy. Your default with Oscar is to try to be welcoming at all times. But let Oscar know ahead of time that your family will not be swayed or discouraged by any issues he may have with you or your kids. Ask him to hold his tongue or, at the very least, take him aside privately and absorb his comments outside of the earshot of your spouse or kids. Make it clear that, while you respect his freedom to his opinions, you won’t allow them to interfere with family time. If he realizes he can’t get under your skin, he’s less likely to try.
Different families have different attitudes and convictions about alcohol in their homes. Be sure Tammy is clear about what will and won’t be served in your home. And regardless of what you serve, tell Tammy that she needs to be sober when she arrives and while she’s in your home. If you do serve alcohol or Tammy brings her own, be sure to closely monitor Tammy as best you can. And don’t be shy about calling a cab, if necessary.
Grouchy, grumpy, and sarcastic are all words that describe Sam. Nothing is good enough for him and he’s not afraid to let everyone around him know. As with Profane Paul, be sure to let Sam know, ahead of time, you are trying to create a positive environment that will be hurt by thoughtless and mean words.
Who are some other challenging relatives you have? How do you handle such situations? Please share your comments below.