The holiday season is famous for fun, food — and family drama. For the most part, the annoyances that come with dealing with your least-favorite relatives are worthy of no more than some heavy eye-rolls.
What happens, however, if the drama between two people with opposing lifestyles, political views or religious beliefs escalates into an argument and the argument evolves into a physical altercation? Depending on the situation, you could end up charged with domestic violence or assault.
Nothing can dampen your holiday spirit like ending up in handcuffs, so you’re well-advised to plan ahead so that you can manage your feelings (and any conflicts).
Forget about controlling the drama, and focus on controlling yourself
Avoiding conflicts over the holidays all comes down to managing your expectations and managing yourself (because you can’t do anything about what your relatives are going to say or do).
With that in mind, here are some tips you can use:
- Accept that your relatives are who they are.You probably know exactly which uncle is going to try to bait you over your political views and which cousin will drink too much and try to fight everyone — so plan ahead. Practice an indifferent response that won’t feed into their (barely repressed) hostilities because nothing you say will change them.
- Practice deflective responses.Have an array of neutral topics in mind that you use to change the subject (and the tenor of the conversation) whenever a relative is being intrusive or obnoxious. Instead of engaging when your cousin makes intrusive remarks about your sexual orientation or your occupation, turn the conversation on its head by asking if they’d like another piece of dessert or what they plan to do for New Year’s Eve.
- Learn when you need to walk away.Finally, if things seem like they’re getting out of control, be aggressive about self-care and walk away. Keep your car keys handy, and promise yourself that you’ll leave if you start to feel your heart race and your blood boil.
Given that research indicates that 44% of people say that family stress is the worst stress during the holidays, it’s wise to plan ahead. If things do get out of hand this Thanksgiving or Christmas and you end up in a physical altercation that leads to charges, find out more about your possible defenses.