Have a father in-law that rubs you the wrong way? A mother in-law that constantly gives you unsolicited and unwanted parenting advice? If so, the holidays are likely to be a source of stress for you and your spouse.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can to do minimise the stress and handle the holidays with your in-laws more effectively.
1. Work out any issues ahead of time.
If there are unresolved issues in your relationship, it’s best if you can work them out prior to the holiday visit. Extending the olive branch and making a phone call may prevent a blow dry over holiday dinner.
2. Do what’s best for your family.
While we all have to do things we don’t want to do in the name of family, if there is something that really makes you uncomfortable or goes against your grain, like your mother in-law wanting to smack your two-year-old, speak up. Only you know what’s best for your family.
3. Pick your battles.
Compromise when you can, but when it comes to behavioural expectations, safety concerns and family values, stand your ground. Relationships are a give and take and good relationships are built on mutual respect. Let the grandparents be the grandparents and do things their way, unless it violates your safety rules, behavioural rules or family values.
4. Set boundaries.
If you know your husband can only tolerate your dad in small doses, keep holiday visits short and sweet. If you’re travelling to your parent’s house, consider staying in a hotel and limiting your visit to a few days rather than a full week. It’s better to feel like you’ve enjoyed your visit then to feel like you can’t wait to get home.
5. Look for the good.
When it comes to family members, try to give them the benefit of the doubt. Each and every relationship offers some value, even if it’s a lesson in how to deal with difficult people. Try to focus the good comes out of the relationship, like the fact that your in-laws love your children, rather than the bad.
The holiday season can be stressful in and of itself. Being proactive by managing your expectations, evaluating your limits and setting boundaries can help to minimise the tension and stress and make the holidays with the in-laws more manageable.