Information Centre

Family Issues at Christmas

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, isn’t it? Well, not for everyone. For some people Christmas is a time to just try to get through without an argument or family disapproval. For those who come from families who don’t support big life decisions, or can be toxic or abusive or dysfunctional families or  maybe for those who simply don’t get along with their families because they are different from the rest of them, Christmas can be awful. Christmas forces families into one room which can be tense and unbearable in some cases. 

Because of family issues, Christmas can be a really lonely, isolating and sad time of year. If that feels like the christmas you are dreading, here are some ways of making it through the holiday season: 

Talk to Your Family and Set Boundaries 

Depending on your situation it might be worth talking through things with your family or a particular family member. Let them know how you feel and ask them not to make remarks that make you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes people don’t realise that their ‘jokes’ or comments hurt others as deeply as they do. 

If there has been a conflict recently or over the years maybe talk to your family to try and clear the air. It can help to talk before the tensions of Christmas set in. Give time for them to speak and listen so they feel heard. Set a boundary of not discussing any previous arguments. 

If you are worried about family members asking about how life is going? Are you in a relationship? Have you found a real job?  Tell them how these questions make you feel and ask that this year they don’t ask them.

Get Support 

Don’t go through Christmas alone, maybe if you are in a relationship you could bring your partner for moral support. If you get along with a member of your family like a sibling or cousin, then maybe share with them your worries about Christmas and they can support you. You can spend Christmas talking to them, sitting with them at dinner and so on. Sometimes it can just help to have someone next to you, in your corner. 

Remove Yourself 

If you feel the tensions of the day getting to you or your frustrations are mounting, remove yourself from the situation. Spend time alone or go for a walk to cool off. 

Avoid Alcohol 

Sometimes family time is okay until a couple glasses of wine or a few beers are introduced to the mix. If you know that alcohol usually results in arguments, maybe avoid it or limit how much you have. So if anyone starts picking fights with you, you are better able to ignore their comments. 

Make a Plan 

If you know that you hate Christmas with your family or you know that your sister will be looking for an argument or that your father will be in a mood or your aunt will be asking inappropriate questions then decide now how to handle these situations. 

Expect how they will behave or what they will say, and act accordingly. Plan to take breaks so the tension of the family doesn’t get to you. Think of conversation topics to steer conversations away from topics you don’t want to discuss. Plan out your days so you are busy with little time to spend with family. If you are home for the holidays plan to meet old school friends. 

You can say NO

One thing to remember while fearing what this christmas will bring is that you are not needed to spend christmas with people who aren’t kind to you or make you feel tense or upset. Your mental health is more important than pleasing other people. 

If Christmas alone is easier than with people who make you feel alone, it might be worth trying to do Christmas on your terms. Maybe reach out to friends who also don’t like Christmas with their family and start a new Christmas tradition with them. If you have a partner, maybe you could spend Christmas with their family?