Nifty vs. Thrifty

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Keeping the Holidays Peaceful with In Laws

It's that time of year again! The holidays are often a time when stress levels are high, money is low, and everyone is streched in a million directions (then we add in lots of quality time with family and the in laws that you might not always see eye to eye with!) While the holidays can be a stressful time, they don't have to be! If we set healthy boundaries, communicate effectively, and bring positive energy, the holidays will surely be a success. Here's how...

First of all, step back if you can, and remember that your inlaws are a very big part of your significant other's life (as well as your children) and they love them dearly. That will never change. You MUST be respectful towards them (even if you feel they are not respectful to you). You're significant other needs to see that you are respectful to them and your children need to see it as well. If you get frustrated with your inlaws, try NOT complain to your spouse. Vent to your friends. That only puts him in the middle and complicates the issue. If one of your inlaws says something that you don't like or something you think is rude, it helps to approach them directly about it. It may be a misunderstanding, or it may be an inappropriate comment but addressing it will help to move forward in a positive directions.

When addressed in a direct but respectful way, you will likely reach a common ground. Try saying something like, "When you ask me about the way I do things often, it feels like you are putting me down. Maybe I'm misreading your statements?" These conversations are VERY difficult to have, however, holding resentment is not going to get you anywhere and can create turmoil between you and your husband. Asking these kind of questions can be a subtle but effective way of setting boundaries with a loved one such as an in law.

Setting boundaries is very difficult but very important. If you feel that you have addressed and set boundaries (but they are ignored) than perhaps it's time to take a different approach by thinking of how you can limit your interactions or seperate yourself from taking things personal on certain occassions for the sake of your family. Taking the high road is usually the best way to go but don't give up on confronting your issues. Chances are, you will need to have many more "difficult conversations" with those who don't always respect your boundaries. Maybe one day they will get it...but they may never change (and that's ok!)

It may come down to only speaking occassionally or at holidays but you owe it to your significant other and your children to make sure that you approach the issues to attempt to resolve them. If you do not feel comfortable having them babysit in your home for instance, make other arrangements and explain to your significant other that you would prefer to hire a babysitter than to risk the chance that bad feelings might occur with the inlaws. Explain that you care about your relationship with your inlaws and you don't want to jeoperdize it by pushing the limits, when it may be best for all to ask a neighbor to care for your child (or children).

Setting boundaries can feel very uncomfortable if you grew up without many boundaries, but it does get easier as you do it more and more. If this seems difficult (or IMPOSSIBLE!), practice a script and say it in the mirror. It sounds silly but can often help with these difficult conversations.

Want to avoid these conversations? It is often much easier to avoid these conversations all together (believe me-I've done it) but it will not help things in the long run. Also, remember that little eyes are watching and learning how to handle difficult situations. How do you want them to handle difficult situations? Do you want them to think that if someone is not treating you the way you like than you should avoid it and/or complain to someone else?

Remember that there are things about your inlaws that have made your significant other who he is (and thats the person you fell in love with!). Enjoy your holidays and make it a positive experience for your family! You have the control to make it a good one!

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