Holidays are all about spending time with family. But what do you do when your family is toxic?
That’s the question my husband and I have been asking ourselves.
Dealing with toxic family is never easy, but it’s been made harder when you still have a healthy relationship with part of the family.
1. Set the Boundary
Setting the tone and precedent with the hard-to-handle family member is key. Ask the specific person family that you’d love to know what his or her plans are, and you want to make sure you see his or her this holiday season. This lets them know that:
- You don’t want to be with everyone together.
- That you still want to be with him or her.
Once you know what their plans are, you can better plan and limit family time with that difficult relative, keeping your immediate family’s schedule priority.
Don’t give in. Toxic family will always try to guilt you and force you to come, but don’t listen to them. If being in that situation is not good for you or your kids, you don’t have to put yourselves in that position just because they’re “family.”
2. Set Expectations
If you have family members who try to drudge up drama and talk gossip during the holidays, just be honest. Tell them that you don’t want to talk about others in a negative way. Speak up about how you want to be in the moment with your family. Whatever you want to get out of your time together, make sure they know. Doing this will set everyone up for success and set the mood for an uplifting, positive time.
Another way to set expectations is to be clear about plans. Holidays are stressful, but it doesn’t help when everyone assumes they know what others want or are doing.
Let other family members know what the plan is from the get-go. For example, my family knows what’s going on with my in-laws, so I make sure to tell them what we are doing and what I expect out of them. That could mean what activities we’re going to do, but also being clear about limiting drama and belittling others.
3. Have Fun
Don’t let the negativity of everyone else bring you down! I know it can be really hard, especially on days that are super stressful like the holidays. But remember, it doesn’t matter what the occasion is, you NEVER have to put up with it and can always either take yourself out of the space or ask the people bringing you down to stop and if they don’t that they’ll have to leave your space.
No one’s mental, emotional, and physical health is worth a relationship that is doing you harm in any way.