by Laura Dickman, BSW Intern
Why can communication with family members during the holidays become challenging?
Communication challenges are often rooted in feelings of insecurities and fear of the unknown
Individuals are often at a higher state of stress during the holidays
Individuals are facing financial burdens during the holidays
Individuals are facing family or relational conflict during the holidays or the conflict is being worsened due to the holidays
Individuals are stressed about creating a “perfect” holiday for themselves and/ or the family
An example of a conflict that may occur in several households during the time of the holidays while having company over is “obeying the rules of the house”. This issue may become challenging for the parents and children involved as both parties struggle to fully communicate what is internally being felt. For example, according to the website ‘Liberal Arts Texas A & M University’ and their December 2019 blog post titled Avoiding “Home Alone”: How To Talk With Family Over The Holidays:
Parents may be struggling with concerns about children being respectful.
Children may be struggling with asserting themselves as independent, competent adults.
How to handle these challenging times of parenting during the holidays?
Educate you and your partner on gentle parenting to reduce stress in the household for all parties involved.
Plan activities to keep the children occupied and engaged in fun activities over their holiday break.
Do not avoid difficult situations or conversations but try to approach them calmly and with an open mind. Not everything has to be at such high steaks, take things slow and maybe even a breather.
Can You Change The Way You Listen?
The simple answer is yes. If you change the way you approach conversations, you can change the way you listen to individuals as well. It is not easy however, as often we respond in a way in which we simply will just argue back. However, to change this we must listen to our thoughts as we engage in the conversation and acknowledge the urge to argue back, and release this. Difficult conversations may require that you listen to understand the other individual and not just simply be present but present in the conversation as well.
Tips for Good Communication Amongst Family Members:
Hold yourself accountable fully for any amount you contribute to a negative conversation
It is alright to explain mid-conversation that you feel yourself getting upset and need to pause or take a breather
Remember to show understanding, empathy, and even vulnerability with the individual you are conversing with
If you would like to change this kind of conversation to a better quality one, remember to leave space for you to listen and absorb, instead of just reacting
If your family is struggling this holiday season, know that you are not alone. Graceful Therapy has various clinicians who specialize in familial and couples therapy. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please visit our website at www.gracefultherapy.com or call our office at (630) 733-9108.