How to Deal with Toxic Family Members During the Holidays


how to deal with toxic family members during the holidays

How to Deal with Toxic Family Members During the Holidays

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021

The holidays usher in family get-togethers. While it is good to see everyone, family members have a unique way of getting on each others’ nerves. And in some unfortunate cases, people meet with relatives for this reason. Our guide helps you spot toxic behaviors and ways to deal with family members who exhibit them. 

What Behaviors Makes a Family Member Toxic?

Toxic people press your emotional buttons. Their actions and attitude bring negativity to your life. In a season of joy and being together, they make the situation about themselves, manipulate you into doing or saying something you don’t want to, you might feel confused by their behavior, or they might overindulge in alcohol. 

Dealing with Toxic Family Members

When devising a plan for a peaceful holiday, keep these things in mind:

Set Expectations

If you have a family member who always acts up during gatherings, expect that situation to continue. Doing so doesn’t mean you’re judging them. It prevents you from becoming surprised, appalled, or mortified by their behaviors. With this expectation in mind, you can devise situations where they do not have the opportunity to bait you or other family members.

Take Time for Yourself

Preparing for the holidays is a tremendous undertaking. Then, bringing in the stress of dealing with troubling behaviors can only add to your holiday stress. A wise way to prepare for the season is to take some time for yourself. Find an activity you enjoy doing and carve out time for it.

Set Aside Holiday Time for Nuclear Family 

If you can, try to set aside some time on the actual holiday to spend with your nuclear family only. It allows you to avoid the toxic behaviors of other family members and keep the holiday special. 

Plan the Holidays Wisely

If you know family members who always butt heads at the table, assign seats and position them far away from each other. You can also invite more friends and family, as it could dissuade the person from engaging in toxic behaviors in front of strangers. 

Limit Alcohol Use

Do you have family fights because people binge alcohol? If so, consider doing away with alcohol for the next gathering. While it might upset some members initially, you also avoid some of the other unpleasantries on that day.

Avoid Triggers that Set Off Toxic Family Members

Should discussions on politics evolve into shouting matches, set ground rules upfront for everyone to refrain from speaking about hot-button issues. And if someone tries to wedge it in, gently remind them that the topic is off-limits.


Don’t address the toxic behaviors head-on. Instead, try to distract the person by changing the subject. And if that doesn’t work, remove yourself from the situation. Take a quick break, regroup, and approach other family members. 

Getting Help for Holiday Stress

The holidays can magnify the things causing your stress. If you’re feeling down or anxious, rest assured we can help. Feel free to contact us. We’ll help you learn more about all the treatment options available to you. 

At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.

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