home icon  twitter icon  facebook icon  instagram icon  mail icon
Phone: 213-255-5629
  • blk-family_80218120.jpg
  • couple_59836057.jpg
  • dad-and-son_73637560.jpg
  • iStock_000009336453_Medium.jpg
  • iStock_000016611624_Medium.jpg

Process Groups

iStock 000020107404 Medium

Learn more

Individual Therapy

iStock 000024605884 Medium

Learn more

Child Therapy

kids 54990730

Learn more

Family Therapy

therapy icon

Learn more

Managing Holiday Expectations

As we settle into the the holiday season, one issue may come up for many of us: how do we go home and successfully deal with our families? How do we have disagreements without them turning into arguments. For example, maybe your mother yells and shuts you down when you stand-up for yourself. Or maybe your sister is a condescending know-it-all and believes her way is the only way. No matter what the struggle, how can we manage our relationships and expectations with family during holiday visits without xxx


This can be especially tough if you have moved away from your family and built your own life with your own set of values. Think for a moment about the differences between you and your loved ones—are you more liberal? More conservative? More or less religious? Do you lead a lifestyle of which they would not approve? Perhaps in the past you have struggled to make it through a family visit without feeling hurt or disrespected. Maybe it turned into a full blown screaming match. Just because you love your family doesn't mean you have to agree with them on everything, but it can be difficult to feel that love during conflict. Though it’s possible to love someone, disagree with them or even not like them, loving them does not mean you have to endure abuse from them. Let me repeat, loving someone, even a family member, does not mean you are required to endure their abuse.


Managing expectations of your family's behavior during your visit is key to having a loving and hopefully enjoyable visit. It's easy to fall into the fantasy that just because your family loves you they will accept you and your beliefs without question. Although it is fair to have expectations that your family will finally  accept and respect your beliefs, that it isn't always the way it works out. For example, you might visit your relatives and (especially this year) have a stark difference in your political beliefs. It is reasonable to believe that if politics come up in conversation, you’ll be able to have a rational debate about your position. It’s unreasonable however, to expect others to change their political beliefs based on the arguments you make. After all, your family members are people too, they have formed their own values that may not be swayed any more easily than yours.


This holiday season, before visiting with your family, take some quiet time to consider what your expectations of your family are and whether they are realistic. Expecting them to behave differently than they have their entire lives will set you up for frustration and disappointment. Expecting them to ‘be who they are’ and preparing for that by: limiting visit time, taking breaks, avoiding problem topics, will help you make through a potentially difficult time unscathed.


If it gets too tough, and you feel you’re being abused (e.g. feeling attacked, being yelled at, criticized, humiliated, etc.), you are not required to stay and endure. Round up your kids and spouse, politely excuse yourself and head out. You can reach out to your family later if that makes sense to you.  


Don't be too hard on yourself if you are struggling—it can be difficult to determine what is and is not reasonable to expect from family members. If you are struggling, consider processing it with a therapist, or even better, one of the process groups at K&S.


Process groups allow you to share experiences, expectations and family disappointments in a safe, confidential non-judgemental environment. This can be invaluable when trying to gain some perspective. Give us a call if you’re interested. It's a great support to have during a stressful holiday season.