I just got this in my inbox from a great magazine I have been reading for over 20 years: Guideposts. Uplifting true stories and lots of great tips on how to make family life easier and more meaningful! Well, it’s certainly that time of year when like it or not we will probably have contact with a certain family member who may seem a bit difficult. Here are the top 3 tips to making
1. Be in the Moment
Relationship challenges persist and grow when we judge today’s comments and behaviors based on yesterday’s arguments and conflicts. It might be impossible to pretend past events never happened, but the closer you can come to approaching this Thanksgiving with a focus on what’s happening now, the more open you will be to the opportunities the present moment offers. Maybe you will share a story from your past that illuminates your relationship with a younger family member. Or maybe you’ll find a new level of connection when you hear yourself reflected in your family members’ experiences.
2. Find the Funny
Even if there are family tensions that can’t—and shouldn’t—be brushed off with a joke or funny remark, laughing together can be a balm to soothe bruised feelings. The comedian Josh Gondelman quips, “Avoid arguing about politics with your grandparents by breaking into song. Twerk if you must.” That strategy can go both ways—grandparents can break the tension this Thanksgiving by leading a show tunes sing-along or by doing the twist.
3. Roll Up Your Sleeves
Getting busy doing—doing anything, from table setting to food preparing to dish washing—is a way to take the relationship-building process out of the verbal realm and into the physical realm. Your body will relax into the flow of the activity, and without the need to sit and stare at each other, you may find you and your family members talk more easily and comfortably about matters both mundane and profound.