Post available to Premium Members only. Please upgrade your account in order to apply.
That same drive also makes it difficult for us to give up on our families, no matter the difficulties that we have had in the past. We keep trying and we keep going home in the hope that things will eventually get better: Mom will suddenly see me for the good and successful person that I am, Dad will actually understand what I do for a living and be proud of me, my brother will go an entire evening without insulting me, and my sister will actually remember my partner’s name for the first time in 5 years. As the old saying goes, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result’. It’s the same when dealing with your family. Hopeful expectations are great, but we need to temper them with reality. When I started my career as a travel consultant far away from home, I never missed my family. I used all the medium to have a communication with them. Now I am working in my home town, I am not even spending half the time I was spending at that time now.
If these things have not happened in the past, they are not likely to happen this time either. In fact, they may never happen. Instead of hoping for changes that are not likely to occur, and then dealing with the anger and frustration afterwards, why not adjust your expectations? Accept the fact that your Mom will never quite understand that you are 32, not 12, and that your dad is still going to try and get you to apply for a job at the Post Office. Shrug off your brother’s insults as the result of jealousy or idiocy, whichever you prefer, and maybe it’s time to acknowledge that your sister is just not that bright. It happens in the best of families. Here’s 5 tips for coping with expectations of the ‘perfect’ visit home:
- What part of the event are the most problematic? Is there any way to lessen the time spent at this activity?
- Are there certain relatives that are the key friction points? Is there any way to minimize your interaction with this person?
- How much time do you REALLY need to spend with the family?
- You already know what the conversational hot buttons are likely going to be. Come prepared with some ‘canned’ responses so that you are not caught off guard. By responding calmly, rather than emotionally, to their jabs, the balance of power shifts in your favor, putting you in control of the outcome. When the desired emotional response is not forthcoming, it’s quite likely your offensive relative will find a new source of amusement.
- Smile. A lot. Act happy to be there and happy with yourself. It’s really tough for others to shoot you down successfully when you are in such a good mood. And trust me - this is one of those things that if you fake it long enough, it becomes real. So paste that smile on your face when you wake up at the Lol’ homestead and don’t let it drag down to a frown. Ever.
No matter what you do, you can’t change what your family does but you can change how you react and you can control how it affects you.
Control what you can, and the rest? Let it go and move on.