Family members of varying ages toasting with champaign during the holidays
Healthy Living

How to Show Grace to Difficult Family Members During the Holidays

Dec 4 2018
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Learning to understand and appreciate our loved ones

The holidays are a time of togetherness and giving. But amidst the laughter and festive gatherings, dealing with difficult family situations can cast a heavy shadow on the lightest heart.

Complicated dynamics and dealing with difficult family members are two of the season’s biggest stressors. We often head into the holidays aware that a difficult family situation is ahead, wishing it were different, but not knowing what we can do to prevent it. And so the pattern continues each year.

But what if we could do something about it? What if we realize how much power we truly do have … how things could be different this year.

If we arm ourselves with some tools — and some perspective — we can deal with difficult family members with grace and face them head-on. We can address situations in positive ways, rather than avoid the negative interactions that inevitably lead to blow-ups.

What is grace and why should we show grace to those who make our lives difficult?

Grace is defined in several ways, but it’s generally thought of as favor or goodwill, regardless of whether someone “deserves it” or not.

It may be extra difficult to show favor to someone who we feel makes our holidays — and sometimes our lives — especially difficult. But if we show grace with an open heart, it can open the door for positive change.

The holidays are about giving. Showing grace to difficult family members can start the healing process and improve family situations. Even if nothing improves outwardly that we can see, there are still benefits: knowing we did the right thing by extending a hand allows us to grow. Grace isn’t only for the person it’s extended to; it’s also for the giver.

How can we show grace during this tricky time of year when emotions are running high?

Showing grace to difficult family members during the holidays can be done in many ways. It doesn’t have to involve a huge gesture or expense. It could involve:

  • Acting genuinely happy to see them, embracing them with a warm hug and smile
  • Bringing them food
  • Buying them a small gift to show you’re thinking of them
  • Starting a conversation, and listening in return

The following tips are important to remember when showing grace to difficult family members:

  • Showing grace is just a first step. It doesn’t mean every bit of history or conflict disappears or everything is forgotten.
  • We don’t have control over others — but we do have control over our actions and reactions.
  • The family members you’re dealing with are people. Just like anyone else, they have things going on that you’re probably not aware of.
  • The goal is to love them, even if it involves tough love.
  • Stand your ground where it matters to you.
  • Don’t expect a miracle…but be open to one!

We have the power to inspire healing in our lives and in our relationships. If you’re dealing with an especially challenging family situation, our wish for you is that showing them a bit of grace makes things easier this year. If you need extra help, our behavioral health team is here for you. Find care near you today.

If you take on the challenge of showing grace in a difficult situation, we want to hear about it! Don’t forget to share in the comments or jump in on the conversation on social media with the hashtag #MomentsofMercy.

Read more about the Moments of Mercy campaign here, and sign up below to receive updates!

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