Every family has its unique struggles. Keeping the peace, especially with the holidays approaching, is a skill we should all be working on. For many families, 2016 was a disaster for Thanksgiving and Christmas as individuals gathered around tables and forgot how to talk to one another. With a new election on the horizon, this year and the next holds the same challenges.
Following are a few tips and resources to help you keep the peace in the family. Whether it is over who gets the last piece of pie, politics, faith or the football team you root for, conflict in families is normal. Regardless of what side of the table you sit on, these steps will help you move toward peace.
Put others before self
Putting others before self is an important step in keeping the peace. Jesus did it constantly. His parables taught often that the last would be first, that the smallest child was as important if not more so then the prestigious leader, and that even the God of the universe could humble Himself to wash the feet of others.
Choose your words wisely
Don’t make broad statements that categorize individuals into groups. Remember that every family has conflict and yours is not unique in this. We each bring our own dysfunction to the table. When speaking around sensitive topics, choose your words wisely. Avoid using words like “never,” “ever” and “always.” Instead speak to exact instances and give honest positive feedback (even if all you know to say is “I really like your shoes”).
When conflict does arise, look for solutions together. Involve everyone and use inclusive terms that do not shut anyone present out of the conversation. Speak with language everyone understands. If the youngest is 5, then use words and phrases the 5-year-old gets.
Jesus is the lead story
Jesus shows us throughout Scripture how to love others who vary in opinions, lifestyle and actions. As Christians we are called to love both the oppressor and the oppressed. There are civil ways in which to lead the oppressor to truth while simultaneously holding up the oppressed with honor. Deciding to live like Jesus isn’t easy. It takes work to love. Jesus died on a cross because He loved us. We are asked to die for self, to look around the room and use our position of influence to speak up and for those around us, to mediate, to find peace and to love like Jesus did.
When you approach conversations with your family, even if Jesus is never mentioned, remember that He is the lead story. How you treat and speak to those around you should reflect Jesus’ love.
Additional resources for how to keep the peace in the family
As you prepare to visit, or have family visit you, here is some additional reading to help you prepare and set boundaries.
- In the article “Worried About Visiting Your Family This Holiday Season?,” Cru.org has some steps for new families dealing with in-laws and parents.
- Struggling to maintain peace with your younger children? Read this from Vibrant Life.
- And if talking politics at thanksgiving can’t be avoided, this one from Grotto Network is for you.
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