The holidays, as you may well know, can be a warzone for many families, maybe now more than ever.
But fear not, dear reader, we’re arming you with tools to diffuse any situation — from avoiding politics as you eat your roast beast (or beets) to Mom and Dad bulldozing over your parenting skills — from Dr. Ish Major, marriage counselor on WE tv’s “Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars.”
Metro: What are the biggest relationship issues you see this time of year?
Dr. Ish Major: It’s the end of the year, so people are normally taking stock of the year, things that have gone wrong, the things that have gone right. It’s a big time for family, so you think about folks who aren’t there and those you want to be there for the next year. A lot of couples make big decisions about whether this’ll be the last Christmas they’re going to do together or not, it’s a big deal and a stressful time.
Why do we always revert to being a bratty kid when we’re home with the whole family?
It’s a time warp. If you go home and your parents are still with you, the last version of you that you remember is when you walked out the door (when you moved out). You slip back into that because those are the roles we’re used to and comfortable in. It’s hard to hide who you are in family; you did that for the first 18 years of life, and it’s hard to break out of that cycle when you’re shoved back into it.
How can we deter political conversations someone with different views is hell-bent on having? Asking for a friend.
(laughs) When those holiday hits start to roll around, it’s can really ruin your day, but there’s a very, very cordial way to handle that. Preface the conversation by saying, “You know what, we’re probably not going to end up agreeing on this, so we can agree to disagree. I will hear you out if you agree to hear me out.” It’s going to be open-ended, and then we’re going to put a button in it and finish dinner, that’s why we’re all together.
What’s the best way to handle relatives trying to discipline your kids or pets in a way that’s different than you?
You have to pregame this with your kids. You say, “Here’s what I want you to do for the next two to three hours.” If you’ve got to bribe them, do it, promise them something fun.
Once you get in there, grandfolks, older siblings with kids of their own are always going to tell you what to do. Say, “Listen, thank you, guys, but these are my kids. You’ve got to take a backseat. As long as they’re not going Thing 1 and Thing 2 from ‘Cat in the Hat’ and tearing the house down, let me handle it.”
Since this is the only time of year many likely see their extended family, how can we carve out alone or friend time without hurting feelings?
It’s time management, you’ve got to prioritize. Some friends you may see at New Year’s. Folks you rarely see, family, blood, you’ve got to put them at the top of the list, and balance that with your partner also.
But at the same time, it doesn’t make sense to make yourself miserable, so if this is one of your least-favorite folks in the world, you don’t have to put them at the top of the list.
Do you have suggestions for stock answers to those pesky, “When are you getting married/having a baby/getting a real job” questions?
My stock answer is one mom always gave me: “All in due time.” The thing of it is they just want to see you happy, and this is their idea of happiness for you. So what you’ve got to let them know is that’s not the only way you can be happy. My mom’s best advice for that is to just always show up and be you. Whatever that looks like for you, just show up and do that.
“Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars” airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on WE tv.