How to handle difficult family dynamics over Thanksgiving



A neuropsychologist provides helpful tips

How to handle difficult family dynamics over Thanksgiving


Dealing with difficult family members during Thanksgiving can be challenging, but navigating these situations with patience and understanding is possible. Dr. Aldrich Chan is a neuropsychologist who shares some strategies to help you manage difficult family dynamics during the holiday:

1. Set Boundaries: Clearly establish your personal boundaries and communicate them if necessary. Let family members know what behavior is unacceptable and what you are willing to tolerate.

2. Stay Calm: When faced with difficult family members, try to remain calm and composed. Avoid escalating conflicts by keeping your emotions in check.

3. Empathize: Try to understand the perspectives and emotions of the difficult family member. Empathy can help defuse tense situations and lead to more productive conversations.

4. Active Listening: Give the difficult family member a chance to express themselves. Actively listen to their concerns or frustrations, even if you don't agree with them. This can help them feel heard and understood.

5. Avoid Triggers: Be mindful of topics that trigger conflict or arguments, and steer clear of them. Focus on neutral or positive subjects to keep the atmosphere pleasant.

6. Change the Subject: If a conversation is becoming contentious, change the subject to something more neutral or positive. This can redirect the focus and alleviate tension.

7. Deflect Criticism: If you're the target of criticism or negativity, respond with a deflecting, positive comment or simply change the subject. Avoid engaging in a defensive or confrontational manner.

READ MORE: 5 tips to help families manage holiday stress

8. Offer Compliments: Compliments and expressions of gratitude can go a long way in diffusing tension. Acknowledge and appreciate the positive qualities of your family members.

9. Take Breaks: If you find a conversation escalating or if you feel overwhelmed, take a short break. Step outside or into another room to regroup and calm yourself.

10. Limit Alcohol: Alcohol can lower inhibitions and sometimes exacerbate conflicts. Be mindful of your alcohol consumption, and encourage others to do the same.

11. Be a Peacemaker: If you're comfortable doing so, try to mediate between family members in conflict. Encourage understanding and compromise and help them find common ground.

12. Lead by Example: Model respectful and positive behavior for other family members. Your demeanor can set the tone for the gathering.

13. Avoid the Blame Game: Avoid blaming or criticizing difficult family members, as this is unlikely to lead to a productive resolution. Focus on solutions and understanding instead.

14. Gratitude: Remind everyone of the purpose of Thanksgiving: to express gratitude and come together as a family. Encourage family members to focus on what they're thankful for.

15. Seek Support: If you're struggling to manage a difficult family situation, consider seeking advice or support from a therapist or counselor.

Ultimately, it's important to approach difficult family members with patience and a willingness to foster understanding. Remember that you cannot control their behavior, but you can control your own reactions and responses. By staying composed, empathetic, and focused on the positive aspects of the holiday, you can help create a more harmonious Thanksgiving gathering.

Dr. Aldrich Chan, Neuropsychologist
www.drchancnc.com

Dr. Chan is a Neuropsychologist, author of the award-winning book Reassembling Models of Reality published in the prestigious Interpersonal Neurobiology Series and founder of the Center for Neuropsychology and Consciousness (CNC), a practice in Miami, Florida that provides neuropsychological and psychological services.  In addition to his practice, he was sought out to teach as an Adjunct Professor for the Doctoral program (rank #5 Best Psy.D. program) and Masters (rank #1, Best Online Masters program) at Pepperdine University. In the Masters program, he is acting as Course Lead (i.e. course design, teaching, and management of other professors). His lectures cover the fields of neuropsychology, psychotherapy, consciousness, affective neuroscience, interpersonal neurobiology, and cognitive psychology.



Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • Residential refresh

    Personalized touches for your home

    Your home is an expression of you, your personality, and your lifestyle. When it comes to personalizing your home’s aesthetic, try leaning into your senses to inspire change within your space. read more »
  • An elevated sandwich for any occasion

    Your family is going to love this

    They might not be the fanciest of foods, but when you eat a filling, protein-packed sandwich, you are usually left satisfied and full of energy. From ham and turkey to mayo and mustard, the possibilities are nearly endless when sandwiches are on the menu. read more »
  • Graduation party planning

    5 tips to make yours awesome

    Graduation marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another, a significant milestone worth celebrating. However, planning a graduation party can be overwhelming. read more »
  • Know as they grow

    How birth defects affect each stage of life

    Birth defects, structural changes that affect one or more parts of the body, are the leading cause of infant mortality. A baby is born with a birth defect every 4.5 minutes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). read more »
  • Almost two-thirds of home fires are due to human error

    Here's how to prepare

    The threat of a home fire is greater than most people think. 40% of people believe they are more likely to win the lottery or get struck by lightning than experience a home fire, yet residential fires are the most common disaster people face in the United States, according to the American Red Cross. read more »
  • How to erase negative self-talk and feel better

    Writing can help

    It’s been four years since the collective trauma of the pandemic created widespread grief, anxiety, and isolation, but the psychological wounds of this period have not fully healed. read more »
  • 7 ways to reduce energy bills during summer heat

    Don't let your budget get smoked during a heat wave

    With temperatures forecasted to run at least 2 degrees higher than historical averages across more than half the country, according to projections from AccuWeather, heat waves may lead to soaring air-conditioning bills this summer. read more »
  • Celebrate Father's Day with exciting outdoor activities

    5 ideas for a day of fun for the special guy in your life

    A thoughtful card or personalized gift can go a long way on Father’s Day, but what many dads (and grandpas) want on their special day is time spent with loved ones. read more »
  • Preparing for your first pet

    5 tips for new pet owners

    Welcoming a new pet into your family can be an exciting addition, but preparation is required to provide a loving home and enjoy the unconditional love of a four-legged family member. read more »
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy 101

    What every student-athlete should know

    Heart conditions may be more often associated with older individuals, but you might be surprised to learn hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common condition responsible for sudden cardiac death in young athletes. In fact, it’s the cause of 40% of sudden cardiac death cases. read more »