You know it's going to happen. Family gets together all through the holiday season and your Great Aunt Jody or Second-Cousin Fran or Grandma Peggy starts with the 20 Questions routine -- which can get kinda uncomfortable sometimes.
The "Are you dating anyone yet?" or "When are you going to have kids?" or "Really? ANOTHER slice of pie?" questions can really throw you off an even ruin the holiday. Here's a few ways to handle these tough conversations during your family gatherings this year.
You're already expecting the interrogation so instead of flat-out dreading it, anticipate it! Self-care before a big weekend with the fam is key: get some rest, get some physical activity in, and spend some time outdoors. Dr. Benjamin Miller suggests even thinking through what your responses could be to any potential hot-button issues that may come up.
Redirect the conversation
Dr. Liz Kelly from Talkspace says that you really don't need to answer anything that makes you uncomfortable.
Kelly says remember, "you don't owe anyone any information," and you should only "share whatever you feel comfortable sharing.You don't have to feel obligated to answer that question in great detail," she says. "My suggestion is to keep it simple. Say something like, 'I appreciate your interest in my love life, but let's talk about something more interesting.'"
Set some clear boundaries
If any triggering topics come up, you're allowed to set a boundary. Is a family member being persistent about something that's uncomfortable for you? Make it clear that it's not something you'd like to talk about.
Consequences for actions
Dr. Miller suggests giving consequences for when someone disrespects the boundaries that you've established. Say that if the person continues to bring up the topic you'll have to leave the room or take a walk around the block. Miller explains that it's not condescending or disrespectful and it protects your well being. Miller says if it gets really bad, have an exit strategy.
Have some backup
It's good to have a family member or close friend that will be at the event to back you up if needed. Someone who you know will be able to reinforce the fact that you don't want to chat about something and can act as a support system.
Rest and recharge afterwards
If you've had a particularly stressful holiday gathering, it's important to take some time for yourself afterwards too. Dr. Miller says reading, exercise, or even some time with friends to debrief can be helpful.
Whatever type of experience you may have with your family this holiday season, try to relax and focus on yourself and the people/ things you appreciate around you. More on how to handle some of the holidays' stresses here.