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Surviving Family Conflict During the Holidays

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Shulanda J. Hastings

Ambassador Shulanda

Ambassador Shulanda

Shulanda J. Hastings is an inspirational writer, Christian counselor and an ambassador to the faith-based community; helping them break mental health barriers. She is the author of the Beauty of My Thorns novel series and of the memoirs, Keeping My Faith While Saving My Mind.

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We are one day away from biting into the scrumptious entrees and desserts that we have been working hours on to prepare. Can you smell the satisfying aroma lingering throughout your house? Maybe aside from one dish or two that still needs to be prepared, you are all set for the perfect Thanksgiving.

At least you think you are.

If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, you are probably looking forward to seeing the satisfaction on your family members faces and just enjoying time with loved ones that you haven’t seen in awhile.

Sounds perfect, right?

Except for one thing.  Family drama!

That’s right. Although it is an exciting time to have family members over for the holidays, there is the risk of having those who have some form of conflict going on. Whether or not it is a recent event or something that occurred years ago, some people just thrive on drama.

So in case you are the host and have issues with a family member or you have to be the referee, here are a few tips to help you survive this holiday.

How to Survive Family Conflict During the Holiday

GOAL- Move Forward. The ultimate goal is to get to a healthy place.  In order to do so the conflict must be resolved. But while there is hostility, parties are in the blaming position and unable to move forward.  Allowing an atmosphere for effective communication, talking and listening, is essential to conflict resolution.

  1. Acknowledge Love. It is challenging loving a distant sibling, difficult parent or unforgiving child. This effort takes patience, determination and humility. We know that love endures (1 Cor. 13) and regardless of the conflict that we have with those we love, they are still our family. As the saying goes, “Blood is thicker than water”.
  1. Love in spite of Differences. It’s okay to have differences and disputes will occur. But make sure that your family member knows that you do love them and that when they are ready to talk, you will be ready and willing to listen to them.
  1. Let Go of Expectations. Be aware of where the relationship stands right now by acknowledging that there is a problem. Do pretend like everything is okay. This will cause even more tension and strife.  Try not to focus as much on where you think things should be with your distant love one. Also, be willing to compromise a little. Do not be fixated on doing things only on your own terms.
  1. Let Go of Defensiveness. Do not allow your ego to keep you from being close with someone you love. This will cause division among other family members because they will feel the need to choose sides.

Now, this will help you to get through the one day that you are being forced together. But who knows, you might get to the next stage of Listening. If so, great!  While you are in this stage, really be active in this stage. Do not try to listen while thinking of all the things you are going to say in defense.  It is important for both parties to be heard.

Then, you can get to the stage of being Willing to Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes. No one is ever blameless in a hostile relationship. So you must be willing to take ownership of your role in the conflict. Ultimately, this will allow the Relationship to be Mended.

Love must be sincere….Live in harmony with one another – Romans 12:9, 16

When our love is truly sincere, it will make the above steps easier. And God wants us to be able to live together in unity and not divided.  It is like music. When everything is in harmony, it sounds so good!

Now, get ready to eat a great meal and enjoy your family this Thanksgiving. I would love to know how your holiday went so feel free to email me at Shulanda@sjhastings.com


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