More families get together for reunions over Thanksgiving dinner than nearly any other time of the year. Unfortunately, the stress of travel, preparations for the beginning of the holiday season and today’s polarized political climate can turn up the heat on family arguments, leaving a bad taste long after the pleasant aroma of roasted turkey and pumpkin pie has drifted away.
“There are a lot of reasons why your emotions might be a bit more on edge during a holiday family gathering,” said Dr. Alex Kowalski, a Rowan Family Medicine physician and assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. “But by adding a pinch of preparation and a dash of patience, you can turn a long weekend into a recipe for a harmonious holiday.”
Dr. Kowalski also offered the following tips for leaving discord on the doorstep before a family gathering:
- Discuss potential problems beforehand. Avoid sensitive subjects, such as recent divorces or separations, by letting everyone know beforehand that you would prefer to set aside time after the holidays for these discussions.
- Let parents discipline their own children. Holiday excitement can lead children to less than perfect behavior, but let their parents handle any misbehavior. Arguments over discipline are a breeding ground for resentment.
- Allow kids to be kids. Involve children with small tasks like setting the table or hanging up coats and hats. Expect them to spill or break things and to have loud moments of silly fun.
- Make time for adults. Uncles, aunts, grandparents and other adults all need time without children. Brew another pot of coffee and bring the adults up to date on news while the children are sleeping or playing in another room.
- Agree to disagree. Let someone else have the last word. It’s better to savor a delicious holiday dessert than an empty ‘victory’ over some small dispute.
- Be realistic. Don’t expect everything to be perfect and learn to laugh at your own missteps. Avoid scheduling too many activities during the weekend and give yourself extra time to travel home and unwind before returning to school or work.
Dr. Kowalski noted that, historically, Thanksgiving week is among the busiest travel times of the year, with inevitable delays on roadways or in airports.
“Expect delays and give yourself extra time so you can avoid additional stress,” he advised. “If you are traveling with children, make sure they have plenty to keep them amused if delays occur.”
SOURCE: Rowan University