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Thanksgiving and Family Dynamics

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Maybe you can relate.

Anonymous wrote:

"I love my family and love when we get together but it's a little different now that I have kids. I'm worried about their behavior, and about how others may act-- and react -- toward them. , and getting more and more anxious as Thanksgiving gets closer. What used to be something I looked forward to is now becoming something I'm almost dreading. What's wrong with me?"

The short answer is "NOTHING".

Navigating family dynamics during the Thanksgiving holiday can be a significant challenge. As families come together, differing expectations, communication styles, and traditions may clash. Finding a balance between honoring individual preferences and fostering a sense of togetherness can be key.

It's the worry that's taking away your joy and putting you on high alert...worry about something that happened in the past - which you cannot change but can learn from and move on - or about something that MIGHT HAPPEN - which means it might not. (More on that another day) It can cause us to come to gatherings ready to do battle. Each misstep or misword is a battle cry to take up arms.

Instead, make a conscious effort to focus on the joy of spending time together rather than fixating on specific details...understand that there may be different perspectives and approaches; none better or worse - just different.

Open communication, and setting clear expectations both with your own and others -- is sooo helpful...

Discuss preferences & expectations in a calm, adult manner (you might even do this in and in advance to avoid hurt feelings).

  • Your father may think that "spanking" is okay - You can acknowledge that he feels this way without giving him wrong but say you're going in a different direction ("A lot of people feel that's the way to go; we're doing it differently").

  • Your brother has a mouth like a truck driver (as my mother used to say) and uses inappropriate or offensive language in front of the kids...explain to your own why this is not okay...even if their favorite uncle says it...

Why? Because challenging these behaviors at family gatherings will escalate the situation, make all around uncomfortable or worse, and not solve any of the issues.

If you think that something said is egregious - pull yourself and yours out of the situation - either go into another room, take a walk around the block, or take your leave - politely and calmly.

I'm not saying to abandon your principles or values. It's about finding a balance that accommodates various needs and ensures everyone feels valued which leads to a happier Thanksgiving.

One thing that brings our family together and helps us (forces us?) to see how blessed we are is that when we sit down at the table before we can eat, every person there - from youngest to oldest - has to say something that she is grateful for. You'd be surprised at how that can uplift everyone's mood.

And as a heartfelt thank you to you, here's a link to a downloadable resource. Inside, you'll find insights, practical tips, and maybe even a touch of inspiration to amplify your efforts in cultivating a growth-focused family.

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