The holidays are coming up and I am debating whether to invite all my immediate family members (in-laws, parents, siblings). Last year went poorly and ended up being stressful for everyone due to people disrespecting personal boundaries and being unkind. My two siblings fought with each other throughout the evening, some of the kids did not like the food that was served and complained non-stop, and my mother-in-law was grumpy to everyone. I love them all, but I do not know if I can go through it all again this year. I am hopeful, but also realistic. What do you think I should do, should I give it another try?
Dear Burned Out,
While family dinners can be stressful on a regular day, the holidays tend to bring out both the best and worst in family dynamics. You cannot control or predict what other people will do. You can only control how you respond to it. That said, I would reflect on what you want most. Do you want to be surrounded by people you know this holiday season? Are you willing to take a risk that your loved ones might not behave better? If not, the other option is to plan a smaller dinner with your own family members from within your household and take in some more quality time with them. Look at what is most important to you; a large group with lots of dynamics or a small group and more intimate dynamics. Either way, I wish you a blessed holiday season.
Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.
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