Not going home for the holidays? How to let your family down easy
(Photo: Unsplash, Alexander Dummer)

How do you tell your parents you won’t be home for the holidays because you’re spending it with someone else’s family?

From Dr. Susan Newman, author of “The Book of No: 365 Ways to Say it and Mean it and Stop People-Pleasing Forever”

For young married or dating couples, share your plans with your parents immediately — don’t spring it on them. Give as much advance notice as possible.

Even in their disappointment, stick to your plans and don’t feel guilty.

You should express your own disappointment, explaining that it wasn’t an easy decision because you’re changing tradition; let them know you want to be there.

Depending on geography, celebrate the weekend before with your family, or invite the other family to join yours.

If you can’t travel to celebrate before, let your parents know when you do plan on visiting and set a date, even if it’s in a few months.

Call on the actual holiday so your parents don’t feel you’ve deserted them. Send gifts ahead, tagging them with, “We miss you, wish we could be there!”

As difficult as it is for parents, they adjust. It’s a part of the generational process that your kids are separating from you and you’re going to have to share them.

From Dr. Victoria Fleming, family therapist

Family dynamics have everything to do with this decision, and will influence how you break it to your parents.

An adult child who is avoiding his or her family is very different from someone newly engaged and trying to balance new family ties.

Whatever the reason, break this news to parents in person or over the phone, not through text or email.

Have a simple, preset script that includes: the warmup, the news and the empathy. Something like, “I have something to tell you, and you won’t like it. I’ve decided to spend the holiday with a friend. I know this is hard, and I’m sorry about that.”

If an adult child does have issues with their parents, they should try to resolve issues between holiday seasons.

By Christen A. Johnson, Chicago Tribune


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