Dealing with Overbearing Family Members During the Holidays

Family gatherings are the perfect moments to spend time with your loved ones. And with the holiday season quickly approaching, family gatherings are inevitable. While spending time with family can be amusing and relaxing, it can easily become an uncomfortable and anxiety-ridden experience. This is because family members tend to bring up topics and ask questions that you‘d rather not answer. We’ve all been in a position where we’re asked a question, by a family, member that we don’t necessarily feel comfortable answering. Whether they’re asking about your finances or your love life, it seems as though we’re often times being bombarded with invasive questions during the holidays.

Questions such as, “Are you dating anyone?”, “When are you going to have a baby?”, “What’re you doing for work?”, etc. tend to come up. It seems as though the main topic family members like to bring up is you're love life and who you're dating. Questions about school and/or work tend to follow. Being as I’m a senior in college, I get a lot of questions about what I’m doing after I graduate, if I’m going to grad school or what job I’ll get. And for a long time I gave the “I’m not sure yet” or the “I’m still thinking about it”. Even though they don’t mean any harm, those questions can be triggering for someone who doesn’t know exactly where they’re going in life.

The main reason family members don’t hold back when asking questions is that they assume you feel comfortable talking to them about certain topics. They feel this way, solely, because they’re your family. This is why the questions they ask can come off as blunt, at times. Where it’s easy to understand this way of thinking, being family doesn’t mean you’re automatically comfortable opening up to them about certain things.

Another reason some family members don’t see the issue in asking these questions is that they haven’t seen you in a while. These are the default questions they ask at every family gathering because they‘re not interacting with you on a normal basis. This is why the questions tend to be redundant. A lot of the time they’re not asking questions to purposely make you feel uncomfortable, but to see where you are in life. Because of that, they like to get straight to the point.

As you can see, this can be nerve-racking for someone who may be confused about what’s going on in their life. There’s an unspoken standard in every family of where and/or how one's life should go. These are the people who raised you, therefore, you subconsciously want them to be proud of you. This can be a lot of pressure if you’re not reaching that standard or living up to the ideals you were taught all your life.

A tip for dealing with unwanted questions during the holidays is to not take it too personally, even if you think you should. It’s easy to feel like you’re being personally attacked when you’re asked certain questions, but try not to take it to heart. As I mentioned earlier, your family members aren’t trying to make you feel bad they’re just curious.

Another suggestion is giving them just the right amount of information. Only let them know what you want them to know. You don’t have to tell them anything you’re not comfortable with. Doing this creates a happy medium because this will make them feel like they’re in-the-know without you feeling like you’ve overshared.

Lastly, be straightforward and tell them you’d rather keep it to yourself. You’re grown now, therefore, you shouldn’t feel obligated to tell them your business. Your business is your business and you have the right to keep it that way.

Spending the holidays with your family is something you’re supposed to look forward to, not dread. Unfortunately, overbearing family members can make you feel like you're being interrogated. Taking these tips will help you combat any uncomfortable situations during the holidays and allow you to truly enjoy the festivities.

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