dysfunctional family holiday

Don't Expect Your Dysfunctional Family To Suddenly Change Over The Holidays

December 12, 2023

The holiday season brings a lot of pressure for dysfunctional families to suddenly become healthy. They usually do not.

With the holidays just around the corner, many of us may find ourselves wondering who we should include in our family gatherings. Should we extend an olive branch to those with whom we have unresolved issues? Or should we maintain our distance to avoid reopening old wounds? This is a complex issue, especially when dealing with relationships that have been strained over time.

The Mirage of 'Normalcy'

There's a common misconception that bringing someone who has been a source of conflict or discomfort in the past around during the holidays will somehow 'fix' things. That the festive spirit will miraculously resolve longstanding issues and restore normalcy. However, the harsh truth is that if someone hasn’t changed or tried to work on the issues that were there, bringing them around during the holidays isn’t going to fix anything. It won’t make things “normal.” It will just be another painful reminder of reality.

Dealing with Unresolved Issues

It's important to acknowledge that unresolved issues, especially those related to personal relationships, can't be resolved overnight. These issues often require time, patience, and a willingness from both parties to work toward a resolution. Simply expecting that a holiday will mend these issues is unrealistic and can potentially lead to more harm than good. Instead of trying to force a resolution, it's advisable to try and work on these issues independently, without the added pressure of a holiday gathering. We have some resources to help you with that, here.

Setting Healthy Boundaries

While it's natural to want harmony during the holidays, it's equally important to set healthy boundaries. If you feel that someone's presence at your holiday gathering could trigger past conflicts or lead to uncomfortable situations, it's perfectly okay not to include them. Remember, your emotional well-being can be a priority.

Making the Decision

Deciding who to include in your holiday celebrations can be a difficult decision. It's crucial to weigh the potential benefits against the potential harm. If including a certain individual is likely to lead to conflict or discomfort, it might be best to exclude them for the overall well-being of yourself and other guests. After all, the holidays should be a time of joy and celebration, not a time for rehashing old conflicts and reopening old wounds.

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