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Relationship Help | How to Avoid Holiday Family Pitfalls and Stress

From Out-laws to In-Laws: Keeping the In-Law Status During the Holidays by Travis Turner

Our view of the Holidays changed in early summer of 2005.  That May, our oldest child Tiffani got married.  Little did I know at the time how this would alter the way we view everything in life, especially the holiday season.  For the first time in my life I was an In-Law. 

Often times in my counseling office, couples come here to discuss a breed of ungrateful, pessimistic, intruding, and demanding parasites called Out-Laws (these are In-Laws who are no longer welcome to engage their children).  I knew these creatures were difficult and scary.  They seem to cause all kinds of havoc in relationships. The problem now is, we don’t want to become one of them.  So, now I must practice what I have been preaching for so long. Here are my Holiday tips to keeping the In-Law status:

Avoid the 3 G’s of the Out-Law

Guilt-“ is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that they have violated a moral standard, and is responsible for that violation”- Wikipedia.  The goal is to have the children return for the next family get together.  It is important that we make them want to come back We must stay away from guilt inducing phrases like; “Can’t you stay any longer?”, “We never get to see you”, “Why do you have to go?”  Parenting tips can also be unwelcomed; “They really need a nap”, “Somebody is spoiled”, “What do you mean they don’t need candy?” Showing gratefulness and appreciation will go a lot farther than guilt. 

Gossip– “is idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others” -Wikipedia .   There are usually only a few special times a year that we hang out closely with our families, immediate and extended.  This is all too often the time to chat about those that were not able to make these blessed occasions.  Nothing makes the kids more nervous than names being bantered about in less than flattering fashion.  If you want to see the kids more than a few times a year, take advise from Thumper’s mother who said “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all”.