“Surviving the family holiday”


Family relationships are complicated because of the expectation that “we are all the same” because we’re part of the same family. The expectations we have of each other (because we’re related) can make it difficult to “be ourselves,” especially if we have different values and goals than do other family members. Because of pre-established roles of who we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to act (based on gender, birth order, family rules, family rituals), family systems do not always give us the space to be who we are.

Families are “systems,” and when change occurs within that system or outside of it, the balance/equilibrium is upset. Keeping that balance is complicated because change is inevitable; people do change and grow in spite of the pressure to conform and keep the balance.

​Returning home or being with family when one has changed, and when one’s values/expectations about the holidays are now different, can be stressful. It’s easier sometimes to just “go along” with “the way it’s always been” rather than “rock the boat.”

People want to belong and feel connected during the holidays. This desire can be so strong that we overextend ourselves emotionally, physically and financially.

Read the complete Stanford University BeWell article here.


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