Family Harmony at the Holidays

Getting together for the holidays provides a great opportunity to talk with your siblings about family matters – who gets what, who does what, and how best to take care of mom and dad if that’s the issue you’re facing right now.

Holidays can bring out the best in us but the stress of planning them can sometimes bring out the worst. Family discussions can be thoughtful and productive but they can also be a minefield of misinterpretations, misconstrued meanings, and hurt feelings.

Remember that when discussing issues pertaining to your parents, EVERYONE should know EVERYTHING. No one should feel left out of the decision-making process or even of the flow of ideas.

As you engage in a discussion of a sensitive subject (and many family issues are), be aware of your choice of words, using positive ones rather than the negative ones that might roll off your tongue all too easily. Watch your tone of voice, too. As we know, it’s not only what we say but how we say it that matters. Make suggestions rather than commandments.

Here are some more things we learned while working on our book.

Keep your focus. This is not a contest to see who can get the most or who does the most. This is a time to think of family harmony.

Avoid power struggles. Choose your words carefully. Watch your tone of voice. Back away and try again later if things get heated.

Acknowledge the past, but look to the future. Be aware of any unfinished business from your childhood and try to keep it from getting in the way now.

Respect each other’s differences. And there are bound to be differences. Understand the fact that not everyone feels the same way you do about family matters.

Share your memories. Talk about your common history, share stories of childhood, and find ways to enjoy yourselves.

With some thought beforehand and the right attitude the holidays can be a good time for remembering the past, talking in the present, and planning for the future as a family.

LH

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