Family reunions can be fun. We had one once down in Rhode Island when I was in college with all the Rhode Island cousins on my Dad’s side of the family. It was such a good time and I even have a picture somewhere still of my Dad and one of his younger brothers pulling all the little kids in a big farm wagon around the farm as if the two of them were the horses. There were also a number of people present at that reunion who are no longer alive today, so it is a cherished memory for that reason as well.
But, just like any family gathering, family reunions are full of people. That can make the interactions complex and not always very easy. Sometimes the people get on each other’s nerves, or act in a manner we do not prefer. What to do in a situation like that without causing a big blow up. And what do you do if a big blow up happens regardless of how you act?
*it takes two to tango*
One thing to remember is setting boundaries. If someone says or does something that violates your boundaries in some way, you clearly and confidently (but not aggressively) let them know what it is that you do not like. Their reaction to this is not under your control. You are doing your job by taking care of you. If they do react badly, try not to take the bait of their trying to start something because it takes two people to make a conflict.
If there are people there who you know just trigger you a lot, who set you off, it may be best to avoid them as much as possible. This is not being rude, this is self care. You do not do anyone any favors by getting yourself all riled up and possibly becoming snappish as a result. Some people, whether intentionally or unintentionally just love to get under our skin and make us crazy. Even if they do not mean it, it is best for our mental health to just avoid them as much as possible. Particularly if we are feeling vulnerable at that time.
My third piece of advice is to stay out of conflict. If a big, or even a small to medium sized, blowout occurs, try to avoid participating in it if it is not necessary. Particularly if it is about something that is of little import. Things like this that are of no consequence just make everyone involved feel and look bad. Remember, you do not control everyone else’s actions, nor are you responsible for them, but you do control you.
Hopefully by keeping these pointers in mind you can make a family reunion a less stressful and more pleasant experience. Families are all full of people we love and people we do not get along with so well. That is just the nature of things. We cannot choose our relatives, after all.
by Julie Morse