Dealing With Family Drama During the Holidays

Courtesy Wall Street Journal
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RENO, Nev. -- The holiday season brings families together and reconnect, but what could be one of the best times of the year could also be one of the most stressful when it comes to dealing with the demands from a houseful of relatives. It could be physically and emotionally draining.

There are high expectations during the holidays because each family unit has their own tradition.

According to author of "Reluctantly Related: Secrets To Getting Along With Your Mother-in-Law or Daughter-in-Law," Dr. Deanna Brann says in-laws are some of the most complicated relationships in a family; the holidays just exaggerate the tension that was already there.

Cramming family time into a hectic few days can be a recipe for drama and bickering, but a few locals say communication is the best way to avoid conflict. Others say keep talking topics light and avoid talks of politics or religion.

Laura McAuliffe of McAuliffe Family Therapy says the best way to avoid conflict is to verbalize the expectations. Realize that every one has their own beliefs and agendas so do not take everything so personally.

The Sparks Police Department says to also avoid alcohol because it impairs judgment and it tends to escalate disagreements.

Here is a family survival guide for the holidays:

1. Be a team player--ask to help and stay engaged in conversations.

2. Establish ground rules--confirm a time with your spouse when you'll be leaving and if you're hosting, make sure everyone knows the plan for the evening.

3. Find humor in a tense situation--laughter creates a light environment.

4. Step out of the situation and observe--pretend like you are watching a play. The holidays are not the right time to be confrontational.

5. Acknowledge that everyone is human--we all make mistakes.