Christmas! A joyful time of year, where everyone delights in each other’s company and all is good with the world… right? 

Well not always! 

A great deal of people struggle with the whole idea of spending time with family and it is definitely one of those times of year when family tensions can run high.

In this series of blogs I will talk about why family tensions happen, how to recognise the signs, how to avoid and then defuse tension, how to have Christmas on your own terms and Christmas for blended families.

Here are some of the reasons why tensions may run high over the Christmas period:

Different levels of income: some family members earn more and so are able to spend more and this may leave other members feeling resentful, unable to ‘keep up’ or like they are not good enough.

High level of expectation about the ‘perfect’ Christmas: Every type of media paints this picture of the ‘perfect’ Christmas, leaving the average family feeling like they have to meet a high standard in order to provide this beautiful meal and lots of wonderful gifts for their family.

Food: Who is cooking? What should be served? The time and preparation to produce a full Christmas dinner is immense and this can leave the person producing it feeling pressured and frustrated.

Alcohol: The level of alcohol consumed at Christmas can create problems, especially if there are underlying tensions in relationships already. 

Clearing up after dinner: Who is going to tidy up after dinner? In some households this can be a huge trigger for frustration because the person who has produced the meal may feel like it is not their job to tidy up afterwards but other members of the family may disagree or just ignore the fact that tidying up needs to be done.

Ungrateful gift receivers: Have you ever given a gift to someone and had them tell you it wasn’t really what they wanted, so they will leave it with you to return? Or, given someone a gift and not had a thank you of any sort? This can create huge tensions and frustrations, especially at Christmas.

Getting new toys/gadgets to work: According to an article in the Independent in December 2018* The average parent spends 41 minutes trying to get toys to work on Christmas Day!

Screen time: Christmas is ‘supposed’ to be a time for families to enjoy each other’s company so when family members are spending more time on their devices than engaging in games and conversation tensions can become high.

I am sure you have experienced some of these issues at Christmas and I would love to hear about other ways in which your family tensions are triggered. 

There is of course, also the fact that family relationships are not always easy and if you are going to be in a room with a sibling, parent, cousin that you may not get on with, it may become a source of anxiety. 

TIP: The perfect Christmas (or anything for that matter) doesn’t exist! Once you begin to realise you don’t have to get everything perfect, the pressure eases. 

My next blog will be about recognising the signs of rising tensions and frustration.

If any of the information here has resonated with you and you would like to know more about how I can help you overcome the stresses and tensions Christmas brings book a free session here

In the meantime keep in touch!

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