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How Not to Relive Your Childhood (in a Bad Way) When You Head Home For the Holidays

You're all grown up and living on your own now ... but why do things seem to regress when you go back home again?

As you pack the essentials to take with you as you head home for the holidays, one thing you might want to leave behind is your inclination to revert back to being a kid almost as soon as you enter your parent’s front door

Whether it’s because you instantly feel needy around the people who used to give you everything, your expectations are high in terms of you kicking back and relaxing and your parental figures doing all the chores, or because you just go back to being a 10-year-old when the family drama is dropped on the dinner table, here are four ways to help you act your age, and stay sane, when you head home this season.  

Try to Remain an Adult

It might be harder than it sounds, but trying to remain mature should be the top of your holiday to-do list. 

Steven Reigns, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Therapy For Adults, says when interacting with family, one can regress to childlike behavior.  

“Refrain from this by reminding yourself of your current age or recent accomplishments. Though one might feel like they are a child again in their parent’s company, it is best not to act like one when negative feelings come up,” advises Reigns.  

Schedule a Lot of Activities

A game plan to tackle is to plan an itinerary of tasks and activities as if you were a camp counselor. Reigns explains that’s a great way to get everyone’s mind off the serious stuff, which may make you revert back to being childlike in your actions. 

“Schedule activities to engage everyone in or a task that is not loaded.  An activity provides an external focus that is bonding but also provides a distraction from deeper dynamics,” says Reigns.  

Give in to Mindfulness

If meditation or breathing techniques aren’t your thing, perhaps you should adopt them into your daily practice ASAP.  

Kevon Owen, a licensed clinical psychotherapist, says that mindfulness and relaxation techniques focused on keeping your anxiety down can be beneficial.   

“This helps to break the cycle of the status quo of what it may have been like when you were in that home during your adolescent life,” says Owen. “Additionally, intentionally returning home to change expectations and reset the boundaries of relationships will help. 'I know when I was younger, this is how we communicated. What I always wish I would have said/done was...' or 'I always hated that our interactions went like this... when they didn't have to. This is how I wished I would have talked to you.' This allows you to change and control the only aspect of the interactions that you can.”  

Remember What Happened in the Past

Before heading into the future, first, take a look at the past. 

Irene Schreiner, licensed marriage and family therapist, says that this time of year can be a very triggering time and often, family members are amazing at pushing our buttons. 

“One thing I constantly recommend is to plan ahead,” says Schreiner. “Think about all the things that may potentially happen that typically upsets you or makes you act out. Make the assumption that they will happen again and predetermine how you will react when they do. Remind yourself of your planned reactions several times leading up to the event. Since you have a plan in place you will find yourself responding instead of reacting in these situations.”

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