Christmas is a time for celebrating and spreading joy. It is that time of the year when families all over the world get the chance to come together and rejoice under one roof. In many cases though, this excessive ‘family time’ results in conflicts and uprisings that taint the entire Christmas spirit. Moreover, it is a time that brings all the tensions, such as family conflicts and relationship stress, to the surface.

For instance, as Christmas nears the courts are filled with separated parents who want to spend Christmas with their children, but not with each other. According to family lawyer Kasey Fox of Farrar Gesini and Dunn, “Australian families regard Christmas as an important family time and Christmas is also a time when most working parents have leave so it is inevitable that parents will want to make arrangements for contact during this period”. Such situations can change this time of celebration into a dreary holiday marked by trivial conflicts and sour moods.

Fortunately, with these Christmas holiday family tips, you can turn your ‘Christmas situation’ around. The first step towards spending a hearty Christmas is making adjustments. It’s best to avoid conflicts rather than deal with them. Therefore you should participate in every event that is important to a family member during Christmas. According to family therapist Joanna Seidel, “Even when there’s conflict or distress, you sometimes have to attend when it’s important to the family member”. Having said that, the therapist emphasises that there is absolutely no need to obsess with the notion of being ‘fair’ to each and every member of the family. “Every family has different relationships with their family members and extended family. It’s not really a question of dividing 50/50; it’s about who the relationships are with and who you want to share that time with”, says Seidel.

The Salvation Army Counselling Service has a few Christmas conflict resolving tips up its sleeve as well. Christmas is a time for letting go of the past and enjoying the special moments that come with this important day. According to the counselling service, it’s best to not stir up the past. Christmas is just not the right time to bring up old problems and issues. You can always deal with the ‘unsaid problems’ later on when the atmosphere is befitting for sorting out things. If any issues arise during Christmas, it’s best to be assertive rather than taking on an aggressive stance. This way you’ll get your point across without ruffling any feathers.

You should make an effort to try to understand your family members’ perspective as well in case they are fussing about something. Plus it’s always healthy to realise that your family members aren’t going to change no matter how much you fight with them. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to make peace with them and concentrate on having a good time together rather than giving birth to petty issues. According to Seidel, “If you’re busy and you have a lot of events and a lot of family members to see, embrace it and welcome the connections”.  Laugh, dance, open up your presents, and have a good time because that is what Christmas is really about.

What are your strategies to reduce family conflict at Christmas? Leave your comments in the box below.

photo credit: Taku (licence)

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