How to Set Healthy Boundaries With Your Family Over the Holidays

Going home for the holidays is a feat you should be applauded for. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family with my whole heart, but everyone’s stressed about something, there’s something in the air with the new year approaching, and it brings up a lot of random people and situations you thought you’d completely forgotten about. Thank you, next! 

The easiest way to keep this holiday season as emotionally and mentally stable as possible is to set boundaries with your family members while you’re home. In the same way that it’s important with an ex, setting boundaries with family allows you to keep a sense of stability over your situation instead of feeling like the holidays have been hijacked by things you don’t feel comfortable talking about or doing. Instead of wondering how you can do it this year, we’re giving you a foolproof way to tackle setting boundaries with the fam.



Be specific

When you’re talking to your family about boundaries, you need to be specific with whatever you’re asking. If you don’t want to talk to your parents about your love life, tell them that discussing your dating life right now is off-limits and not something they should be concerned with right now. Instead of trying to keep it as simple as possible, give all the details. It might feel weird in the moment, but it will prevent any discomfort from happening in the future.


Get your partner on the same page

If you’re bringing a partner home this year, get them on the same page with the boundaries you’re setting. If you don’t want to talk about having kids or getting pregnant with family, tell them that and why. This helps you appear as a unit and can help alleviate some of the stress on your end. 


Be calm

Having a discussion with family about boundaries while you’re angry is a no-no. They won’t take your issues seriously, and they’ll question your intent, even if it’s entirely out of love. Setting boundaries is a normal thing, and it’s supposed to help you keep the peace between everyone instead of making things awkward. 



Ideas for boundaries to set:


1. Going to parties

If you’re feeling uncomfortable going to a specific holiday party (maybe an ex or a family member will be there that you’d like to avoid), tell your family you’re not attending and don’t be afraid to be firm about it. Going to events that make you uncomfortable is the opposite of spreading holiday cheer. 


2. Travel

Don’t feel pressured to visit family who lives far away if it’s not in the budget or gets in the way of other plans. You could ask family to come visit you or even meet in the middle. 


3. Food

Holiday gatherings tend to be surrounded by food, and it can be difficult for some to engage in these when they feel like food is the only thing around them. This can also become a time for your family to make comments about weight, how much food is or isn’t on your plate, or what you’re eating. Talk to your family about how those comments make you feel and that while they might be good-natured to keep them to themselves. 


4. Your love life

It can feel like a burden to deal with the “still single?” questions that often come up during the holidays. In the same vein, it’s also stressful to be asked about proposals and engagements and weddings when it’s just anyone’s business. You don’t have to worry about these questions this year — simply tell family that your relationships are off-limits. 


5. Plans

Coming home for the holidays can often mean you’re expected to do everything with your family, and that’s not always the case. Clearly explain your plans, from what you’re doing on Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve to how you’re spending those lazy days afterward. You’re not required to attend any events that you don’t want to, and you can make your own plans as well.