While commercials, cards, and TV shows all show happy family gatherings, the reality is, many family get-togethers cause tremendous difficulties for a lot of us. Why is that?
There is a great expectation that holidays will be fun, warm, loving. That family reunions will bring joy to all. But that isn’t always the case. Family gatherings can remind us of who’s no longer present, either due to death, divorce, or distance. This can cause sadness and a feeling of loss and longing.
We tend to act out old family roles when the whole family gets together. So if you were the “acting out” adolescent, you may find yourself in the acting out role again as an adult. If you had competition with your sibling when a child, you may find that the old competitive spirit is alive and well. Old jealousies may rear their ugly head again. Competiton for parental attention for yourself or your children may cause some difficulty.
Here’s what you can do. Remember, holidays don’t have to bring up all or some of the above. Keep focused on the purpose of the gathering: to eat a meal, exchange gifts, or reunite with family members you haven’t seen in a long time. And focus your attention on those that support you, that have your back. This could be your spouse, children, cousins, etc. Just because others may try to drag you into old dysfunctional patterns and behaviors, it doesn’t mean you have to follow.
Have a peaceful holiday season.