The holiday season is all about spending time with family and loved ones. But for many modern families there can be a lot of factors that can complicate the situation. In this week’s Intentional Living we talk to a communications professor at Texas Tech to find out how you can navigate some of the complexities with dealing with family.
There’s no doubt about it….Family relationships can be complicated. But Dr. Jana Lafreniere at Texas Tech says it’s perfectly normal. “When people encounter conflict with their family I think one piece of advice is just be kind to people, it’s a tense situation. It’s the holidays and know that people might be on edge and so if people bring up something that you don’t want to talk about right then, then let them know that you value their thoughts and their opinions but that you would rather set up another time outside of that occasion to talk about it.
If you are like me, then you are the inbetween age between the youngest and the oldest in the family. And generational differences can make things a little tense. Dr. Lafreniere says, “yeah, so it’s kind of this beautiful mess. I think, so we actually look at it between different generations that communication as communication between different cultures and I think that really describes that really well. You know that we’re all going to have something so if maybe you’re getting frustrated that your grandchild is on their phone all the time or they’re wearing those ripped jeans to dinner. I know that they might equally be frustrated with you that you are always talking about your doctor’s appointments or old times or medications and I’m trying to look at those as points that you can learn from trying to have a time where you can practice patience and grace and really employ those active listening skills.
Something else we see more of these days is divorce and blended families and those can also add tension.
She tells us, “it’s easy to get caught between parents with navigating those interactions, and then the children get left out sometimes so making sure you’re not leaving the children to feel like they have to choose sides or be loyal to one parent over the other.”
But Dr. Lafreniere says there are steps we can take to avoid a blowout. “It’s important to schedule a time in advance if you can for yourself and to do something restful regardless of whether that’s being alone or doing something with your spouse, or even with your dog. Just making sure that you are scheduling that time and to do something that’s restful to you. Let them know that you will be a better person tomorrow or you’ll be a better guest tomorrow if you’re able to take that time to recharge today.”