Accept Your Family Members Just as They Are

November 17, 2008
When family gatherings drive you crazy, learn how to love them.

Cartoon of happy relativesWhat happens when your relatives arrive on your doorstep this holiday, or you arrive on theirs? Are you genuinely pleased to see them? Or do you count the hours until they all leave, or you can?

How do we get into this dilemma? Far from giving us the loving support we want, which according to researchers is an essential ingredient in health and healing, family gatherings often seem far from health-promoting. Although they may have elements of fun, why can they also drive you crazy? The answer is simple. Your family is made up of people. And people, even those we love, have very human traits that are sure to drive someone crazy at one time or another. Getting all the family together can be highly stressful for many people.

In an article titled Gathering the Family for Love and Healing, I write:

Part of the problem, of course, is that many of us have to travel long distances for family reunions. Years ago, when families lived near one another, there were more opportunities to share in one another’s joys and sorrows. You could watch your nieces and nephews growing up right before your eyes. Disagreements had time to get themselves worked out in small bits and pieces.

Now holidays are often the only times for face-to-face discussions, the airing of differences, and the acknowledgment of milestones passed during the year. Consequently, tensions can be exacerbated because so much is jammed into such a short period of time.

Despite your family’s history to the contrary, we believe it is possible to have a family reunion that is loving, healing, and nurturing – without unnecessary stress. Read the rest of the article on Support4Change to set you off on the right foot in planning a less stressful holiday season.

Later in the article I offered twenty suggestions for how to make a planned get-together work out better than it has in the past. Read Gathering the Family for Love and Healing to discover which ideas would work best for your sanity — and your family’s.

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