Overcoming Tension During Family Get Togethers

By: CNN
By: CNN

November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving week is a time when some families reunite and share holiday traditions. But family gatherings can often be overshadowed by tension.

Painter Normal Rockwell captured the perfect family gathering at the dinner table, but in real life, holiday get togethers don't always have a happy ending.

"The holidays are like a pressure cooker," says Dr. Charles Raison
of the Emory School of Medicine. "They put everyone together so anything that is there is likely to erupt."

Psychiatrist Charles Raison says underlying family tension is very common and often re-emerges during the holidays.

"Families have real conflicts and there are real problems and most of the time families will deal with them the rest of the year by finding distances from each other," explains Dr. Raison.

He suggests breaking the tension by starting new traditions that will be fun and liberating. Communicating ahead of time and compromising maybe the most realistic way to head off trouble.

"Everybody has to find their own compromise level, but the best way to
extinguish this type of situation is for people to be honest about their
expectations and if people do that they can get ahead of the game," said Dr. Raison.


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