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Dealing With Family Over the Holidays

Dealing With Family Over the Holidays

Holiday traditions, parties, and get-togethers almost always involve family. Gathering together is an essential part of the holidays. It’s the part that I look forward to the most. 

Christmas isn’t the same without my mom’s spread or my dad’s white elephant gifts. But as amazing and wonderful as family is, they can also be brutal, especially when you have young children.

Scrutiny, judgement, and unsolicited advice are just the tip of the iceberg.  And with the added stress that comes with the holidays, it can get overwhelming fast. Dealing with family and their unwanted comments doesn’t have to be stressful or turn into conflict. Hold to your boundaries at home or away by determining your dialogue beforehand. Here are few things you can say when things get dicey:

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“I can handle this.”

Whether it’s your mom trying to step in while you are reacting to your child, or a sister trying discipline for you, this can be the easiest way to take back control of the situation. By saying, “I can handle this,” you don’t need to explain yourself or defend your reasons. With the right tone, it doesn’t have to sound like a harsh comment, and it will help avoid confusing your children with differing rules.

“I know what works best for my child.”

Often with little children we need to hold to set schedules or structured plans. When easily scrutinized by outsiders, these issues can often be tender. “I know what works best for my child,” can promptly shut down further conversation on the topic. Children thrive on structure and schedules, and it’s important for them to know that your boundaries are sure and safe.  

“Our doctor and I both agree this is best.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I’ve tried  A, B, or C.  Whatever the issue, it always seems that everyone has an opinion. When questioned on how you are handling a child’s condition or behavior, let it be known that you are confident with your plan of action. If appropriate, bringing up the fact that you’ve consulted your doctor on the matter can often end further discussion about the issue.

"This works best for our family."

No matter what anyone says, there is never a fix-all solution for every family. You know what works best for yours. "This works best for our family," lets your critics know that you've thought through your situation and have arrived at the conclusion that works best for you.


“I will look into that. Thank you for your suggestion.”

When all else fails, you can say that you will look into their suggestion, or simply thank them for that suggestion. You are not required to take any criticism or advice that is offered to you; however, sometimes the easiest way to end the conversation is to thank them and move on.  

Even if this Christmas might look a little different, family members may still voice judgement or unwanted advice over Zoom. Hold your boundaries, be clear with your intentions, and most importantly, don’t question your parenting based on others' opinions. You’re a strong parent who knows what is best for your children, so speak up, be clear, and let others know where you stand.

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