Re: Dealing with THAT family member during the holidays
Since the holidays are rapidly approaching, my anxiety about spending time with my father increases. Despite my love for him, he is the one person that I prefer to avoid. He completely stresses me out!!! Usually, after spending a few days around him, we end up in an argument, which causes stress to the entire family. I usually end up saying something not so nice to him, which I always regret later. He is very controlling, talks constantly, is very opinionated and critical, is quick to anger, tends to drink too much, etc. He is THAT family member. If it is not one thing, it is another. Nothing is ever right in his eyes and he always has something to complain about. If you have any advice on how to make it through the holidays with a happy and peaceful heart, I would love to hear it! God bless!
Dear “Terrified of Turkey Day with a Dad who can be a Turkey,”
I don’t know if this makes you feel any better, but you are not alone.  I know there are many out there who are dreading seeing THAT family member in their very own family get-togethers.
THAT said, here’s what I would do . . . first and foremost, prepare yourself!! I would begin by praying daily about your upcoming holiday.  Ask God to give you a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).  Then begin to read and meditate daily on Bible verses that help you with your anxiety and give you greater perspective on the upcoming event.  Here are just a few that might help:  Deut. 31:6, Psalm 27:1-3, Psalm 86:7, Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 42:16, Matthew 6:19-34, 2 Corinthians 1:8b-9, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 4:4-8, Hebrews 12:1-3, 1 Peter 5:6-7
Also consider and write down some of the ways your father has offended you in the past at these types of gatherings (you’ve briefly mentioned some here already).  Next, consider and write down how you would like to respond to him in those difficult moments.
For example, if he tries to start an argument, silently pray asking for God’s peace.  Then commit to asking your father questions for clarification rather than feeling you have to refute what he is saying.  In other words, determine ahead of time you will avoid arguing.  Arguments always have at least two participants, so you have the power to resist doing your part.  And asking questions helps the other party to feel you are still engaged with them without conveying that you agree.  In fact, asking questions very often defuses any anger or anxiety the other party feels which might have been the trigger for them to start an argument in the first place!
However, if your father keeps on trying to engage in an argument regardless of your questions, either try to change the subject or be bold and polite by saying, “I really don’t want to argue with you, Dad.  I want to enjoy our time together, since it is so short.” Sometimes this won’t work either with a tried and true “Boundary Buster.” And if that is the case, simply walk into another room, if you can, and begin a conversation with someone else.  If you are in a car and cannot escape to another room, you could politely request a break from the conversation so that you can spend some time reading or listening to your I-pod. (Then don’t forget to bring those items with you as part of your arsenal!)
Finally, some of your anxiety may be due to the frustration you feel over how you wish your father would act.  You may think, “if I could just say this one thing to him, he’ll understand what he’s doing wrong and change!” Or you may think that his behavior says something about you, and so you are responsible for setting him straight. It’s important to realize you are not responsible for your father’s bad choices and actions.  You are responsible for how you respond to him, but not for how he responds to you or what he thinks about you.  And most importantly, you cannot change your father.  You can influence your father with love, kindness, patience and mercy, but convicting your father of his bad behavior is a job for the Holy Spirit.  So the bottom line is to accept your father as he is, and pray for him that God would do a work in his heart.  Remember there is no man that is too lost for God to reach!
Have a Question for Dear Beth-E?
If you have a question that only a counselor can answer, then send it my way.  All you have to do is click on “comment” located at the bottom of this post, then write your question in the box that pops up.  When you are asked to “choose an identity,” you can even choose “anonymous” and no one will ever have to know it was you–including me!  But others will truly benefit from your willingness to address an issue that probably many others struggle with as well.  And I will do my best to offer some helpful suggestions and/or answers to your dilemma.  So keep those questions coming readers!
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Comments on: "Dear Beth-E: “Terrified of Turkey Day with a Dad who can be a Turkey”" (2)

  1. Dear Beth-E:Re: Dealing with THAT family member during the holidaysSince the holidays are rapidly approaching, my anxiety about spending time with my father increases. Despite my love for him, he is the one person that I prefer to avoid. He completely stresses me out!!! Usually, after spending a few days around him, we end up in an argument, which causes stress to the entire family. I usually end up saying something not so nice to him, which I always regret later. He is very controlling, talks constantly, is very opinionated and critical, is quick to anger, tends to drink too much, etc. He is THAT family member. If it is not one thing, it is another. Nothing is ever right in his eyes and he always has something to complain about. If you have any advice on how to make it through the holidays with a happy and peaceful heart, I would love to hear it! God bless!

  2. We are responsible for our REactions…not others actions. And that can be some of the hardest medicine of all to swallow. (I know it is for me!)You've shared some good advice, Beth. Keep it up!peace,Donna

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