Home Is Where The Heart(burn) Is: 4 Ways to Visit Family Without Losing Your Mind

I can’t begin to express how much I love having a few days off from work to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday! I’m getting some housework done and putting my baking skills to the test (score: one delicious success, one horrendous failure) but mostly, I’m psyching myself out for my imminent return home to mom and dad.

Like many others out there, the idea of going home for the holiday elevates my stress levels. For some, the anxiety lies in the prospect of facing the family firing squad’s barrage of questions about what you’re doing – or not doing – with your life: career, marriage, kids, etc. For others, like me, it’s dealing with the dysfunction that befalls most families. I love my parents, really I do, but I’m long past the unavoidable point in life when mom and dad become actual people with their own issues and problems!

So for everyone who feels that going home is like heading home to your own execution, here are four ways to prepare yourself mentally for the conversations you don’t want to have at Thanksgiving, but will.
1. Get into a good, strong, confident place before you go home. Think about the conversations you’re going to have and what you’re going to say about your life and the choices you’ve made. Arm yourself with the confidence, direction and dialog you need to make the time with your family a great experience.
2. Recognize what makes you happy and how you find DEFINE success. Being able to articulate your vision and back it up with research, information or a plan will give your family more confidence that you’re on the right track. Remember that even though your definition of success might differ from your parents, you really need their support.
3. Know your family’s push buttons and how you should spin your story for different people — for example your dad might care more about money while your mom is concerned about your happiness. Plan your conversations accordingly. If you go into these conversations lost and confused, they’re going to jump in and offer their own opinions and advice that might be contradictory, irrelevant or not as specific as you’d like it to be.

4. Remember: They love you. Their words may not express it adequately but they only want you to be happy. Try your best to make the most of your time at home and keep in mind that it will all be over in a few hours or days.