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3 Tips for dealing with family conflict


Jacob Lund | Shutterstock

Sophia Swinford - published on 12/26/17 - updated on 12/23/21

Family drama? This psychologist has some helpful hints for keeping the peace.

It’s that time of year when the whole family gets together over Christmas and New Year’s: parents and siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins. The air is filled with festivity but also with emotions. You forget just how much that one joke and or that little habit gets under your skin until you have to face it again.

The holidays can be stressful for us all. Luckily, psychologist Nicholas Joyce has three tips to help us handle those holiday conflicts…


Joyce warns us against the “rejecting reality” mindset, in which we refuse to accept that situation as it is and instead expend all of our energy wishing and hoping that our family will change. It’s much more helpful to accept the situation as it is, so that we can be prepared to handle it.

If you can’t confront it, let it go

When those little irritants do come up, we have two choices: confront the situation or let it go. If it would be helpful and effective to communicate to the other person how you feel, then this is probably the best way to handle it. However, if this would not be helpful to you, then don’t let your feelings fester into resentment. Simply, let it go.

Plan ahead

Sometimes we can anticipate the problems that are likely to arise when we spend time with our families. If this is the case, stop and take some time to think about how you will handle the situation. Make a plan of action in advance so you won’t be caught off guard.

Everyone knows the struggle of family conflict, but we don’t have to resign ourselves to the same inevitable outcomes. When we take control of our choices and emotions, we can work towards a healthier and happier holiday season and new year.

ChristmasFamilyMental Health
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