The most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner. But as joyful as it is, it also comes with many expectations, one of which is spending holidays with family. Unfortunately, in some people’s cases, the image of a happy family presented by the media isn’t the reality. Many might choose to spend Christmas with friends instead
Because while blood might run thicker than water, a relationship with a family member isn’t always a healthy one.
More and more people begin to notice toxic traits in their family members.
If you think your family is toxic, it’s normal to feel like there isn’t much you can do about it. Perhaps you’ve been told that your grandparents are too old to understand that their comments are inappropriate or that your uncle’s remarks are just harmless jokes. Or you were simply taught to act obedient and avoid conflict. Unfortunately, being around toxic family members can have a detrimental effect on your mental health. Your self-esteem and confidence might decrease because you learn that you have to put up with other people overstepping your boundaries.
What to do if your family is toxic?
One of the solutions is to explain to a family member how their behaviour affects you. While it sounds great in theory, the outlook on certain things and parenting styles were different in the past. It might not be easy to get your point across unless your family happens to have a flexible mindset. For example, your parent might struggle to accept that commenting on your weight isn’t a good way to look out for you or that comparing you to your sibling won’t motivate you to try harder because they were raised to believe these strategies worked. Still, it’s worth having a heart-to-heart as it can help you understand why a family member acts the way they do and make it feel less personal.
In some cases, there’s a thin line between toxicity and abuse. If a family member acts abusive, another option is to cut them out completely. You can never go wrong with prioritising your mental health over a strained relationship that prevents you from being happy. However, you have to be prepared that severing all the ties might increase conflict within the family and make you feel guilty.
So should you choose to spend Christmas with friends this year? The answer is it depends.
The key is forgetting about traditions and doing what’s best for you.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to talk to a problematic family member and see if you can resolve the issue. Letting another person know that their behaviour is hurtful might help them become more self-aware or at least smooth things over enough to survive the family gathering. If you decide to give it one more chance, remember that there’s an end in sight.
However, it’s also okay to give yourself permission to step away. If the thought of seeing your family fills you with dread and you’d rather spend Christmas with friends, there’s nothing wrong with doing things differently this year. Ultimately, your mental health should be the priority.
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