Don’t let tension ruin your reunion. Keep your cool, make meaningful connections, and have some fun by taking these rules from the experts to heart.
Call the troublesome guy (or gal) beforehand, says Dr Roger Frame, a family-conflict expert. Try: “Uncle Piet, I know we don’t often see eye to eye. How can we keep the peace for Dad?” Even if talk turns hostile now, it’ll mean a smoother event later.
Spend quality time with your hosts, but arrive with a reason to duck out early. No need to elaborate. “The kids need some sleep” is a perfectly reasonable excuse. Then be nice: “Need a hand with the food?”
Find time to escape the madness and keep yourself sane. Bond with the kids by playing a game or gather them around to read a book. Or, enlist the help of your brother-in-law to tighten Ouma’s dodgy tap.
After you leave it’s okay to vent, but don’t dwell. “It’s counterproductive and will serve only to feed stress,” says Frame. So plan an activity – a walk, putt putt, a movie – ahead of time to help you, your partner and your kids unwind.