We all know that getting along with family can be harder than getting along with friends. Why is that? Well, you get to pick your friends and if you don’t like someone, you don’t have to hang around them. Plus, you get to know your friends in a deeper way and tend to accept them – warts and all.
I once posted the following on Facebook:
Family….can’t pick ‘em….can’t kill ‘em…the best you can do is get caller ID… LOL
But how do you handle family when the dynamics can sometimes be awkward or tricky? Here are 7 tips to keep in mind at your next extended family gathering:
- Respect your elders. If your grandmother carries on about “kids these days”, then listen to what she has to say and remember where she is coming from. You can turn the conversation around by asking her what it was like when she was a kid. Ask her about her school, her first job, where they liked to hang out, what the fads were, etc. In a lot of cases, whether they want to believe it or not, “these days” may bring about different challenges but there are a lot of similarities!
- A family gathering is not the time or place to bring up personal arguments or long standing disagreements. Try to bring a fresh perspective to each new get-together and focus on the now. Surprisingly, my family has only had a few blowups that I can remember but overall tend to keep the arguments down (and blasting of other family members to smaller circles) – luckily! LOL
- Get to really know each family member. Spend time with each one and find out where they’re coming from. Perhaps Aunt Ophelia talks nonstop at these functions because at her own house she’s alone and lonely. Maybe your sister’s brother-in-law, Sean, brags about his fancy car because he grew up poor and is proud of his accomplishments. Get to know them as people and develop relationships with them and you’ll probably like them better.
- Be patient and open-minded. Humor goes a long way to diffuse potential problems. Be ready to jump in and change the subject if you see something ugly about to happen, or crack a silly joke to break up the tension.
- Don’t try to make the family gathering perfect. No one has the perfect family (God know I surely don’t!) and no matter how hard you try, you can’t stage the perfect gathering. If it’s at your house you can have your house clean, the food and drink ready to go, and some fun games on hand, but recognize you can’t control people (which is why it’s a must to refrain from having too many family members coming to your crib at once).
- Keep the conversation on easy-to-talk-about subjects. That leaves out religion and politics and cousin Debra’s love life. Tell jokes, even corny ones, tell stories, talk about what you’re thankful for this year, ask about recent accomplishments, etc.
- Try to celebrate your differences. It would be a pretty boring get together if you all thought the same way and agreed about everything. Take note that Malik is a moody teenager this year but could change the next time you see him. Enjoy any positives about old negative Fred because he may not be around next year.
Over to you…
Do you think these tips will work for improving and/or maintaining the peace and getting along with YOUR relatives? I’ve love to hear your thoughts and any tips you’d like to share!