Family conflict during the holidays is a real thing. And, look, I may come from one of the most peaceful families ever, but recently; some things happened that put a whole lot of people on edge – including myself.
So, much so, that we had to have an immediate family “sit-down” to decide how we were going to deal with the matter. Forgiveness was step number one (always is!), but sometimes, even sorry doesn’t seem to cut it when trust is lost, and the other party continues to act without any trace of changed behaviour.
Because of all of this, I went out to look for some helpful tips that we can all use when having to deal with family conflict over the Christmas Holidays. Here are some that I have adapted from Alexandria Skinner’s article relating to the same:
CHANGE YOUR OWN THINKING! This could involve lowering your expectations and assessing the stage of the conflict and then responding appropriately.
Look, every family has its issues, and it’s not helpful to expect more from family gatherings than they can deliver in reality. I don’t see this as pessimistic as much as it is realistic (sensible, a practical idea of what can be achieved or expected, accurate, true to life). When assessing the stages of the conflict whether at the mildest level, always keep an open mind, listen to the other party, and ask open-ended questions that aid listening and communication. You can choose to change the subject of conversation at moderate levels and at severe levels, make sure that you pay attention to personal safety and mental health. Stay away from alcohol – which increases the potential for violence in a situation (NB!), and don’t engage or retaliate!
SEPARATE THE PEOPLE FROM THE PROBLEM!
Pause before you respond to crazy, outlandish comments and try to refrain from attacking back. Then change the topic of the conversation and give the problem person a task to do for exapmle be in charge of seating, making placement cards for the table and so on.
FOCUS ON ‘INTERESTS’, not ‘POSITIONS’:
When the person makes a crazy statement, try to understand the “motives, fears and needs that underlie the statement.” The use of open-ended questions not only deepens the conversation, but also show that you are willing to listen and deepen your relationship. For example, “tell me more about that,” “this sounds like it has upset you very much.” When you listen and don’t judge or interrupt you are displaying character that is neglected in today’s society. A lot of the time, the real issue, or the basis of that person’s belief is world’s different from the anxiety that was raised at first.
INVEST OPTIONS FOR MUTUAL GAIN! It’s okay to agree to disagree!
Here, both of you can enjoy talking about the non-adversarial aspects of your relationship. Both agree that you want to be healthy people. You could also team up ahead of time with a friend (or another family member) and mutually agree to “rescue” each other (via signal) if any situation escalates too quickly (I feel like this is something that I might want to do).
MAKE OBJECTIVE CRITERIA FOR YOURSELF:
Decide that you aren’t going to sweat the small stuff! “Your life is too short and your calling too great to be offended by something small.” – One of my friend’s put this up as his Facebook status the other day, and I completely agree. Allowing small things to take our peace can ruin a lot for us. Be objective, take deep breaths and relax.
Ultimately, the last step would be to spend a lot of time with Jesus before your family comes together. Honestly, spending time in prayer, listening to sermons, reading devotionals and listening to worship music are all ways that you can prepare yourself to RESPOND and not REACT when your family gets together!
If you feel like you need a bit of help with what I’ve just mentioned, and would like to know how, why don’t you click on the banner below?