Enjoy Thanksgiving With Your Dysfunctional Family

Some families can get together and celebrate holidays with minimal drama. Other families...not so much. With a change of perspective and some mental planning you might even be able to enjoy your kooky dysfunctional family. 

Make some allies – it's likely that there are other members of your family who also recognize that time together is not always harmonious. Figure out who may be able to help you steer others away from falling into negative patterns and get together for some pre-party strategy. Create signals or code words to get each other to enact parts of your plan. A word we like is 'pineapple'.

Give problematic people a job – if you have a particularly picky eater, or just someone who likes to complain about the meals, ask them to prepare part of the menu and allow them to get some positive attention. Any sulky teens who are 'too cool' to hang there and let their bad mood spread to other family? Bribe them with some cash to play with the little kids after dinner.

Invite buffers – people often behave better when outsiders are hanging around. If you think your family can behave appropriately, invite some company to attend your event.

Don't over serve alcohol – boozy family parties can bring tension to the surface. If this is something you're worried about, let everyone know in advance that your gathering will be alcohol-free. Anyone who isn't interesting in going to a dry party will either decline or leave early.  

Control the seating chart – have the little kids draw and place cards to assign seats. Older family are less likely to move the seating chart because they don't want to offend the children. Seat people who don't get along as far away from each other as possible.  

  1. Guide the conversation – some families have a hard time talking without arguing, a good thing to do is play the conversation game. Let everyone know at the start of the meal that you want to use the time get to know each other better and hopefully they'll play along as long as possible. 


Read more tips a Psych Central 

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