How To Deal With A Toxic Family Member During The Holidays

How To Deal With A Toxic Family Member During The Holidays

Happy Wednesday readers! I hope this post finds you well. As we are approaching the holiday season I felt it was appropriate to share about a topic that many of us struggle with during this time of year: how to deal with a toxic family member.


Most families have at least one person that is either difficult to be around (abrasive, argumentative, rude) or downright toxic (narcissistic, verbally abusive). While you may be able to avoid this person most of the year, when it comes to holidays and the family get-togethers that occur in the upcoming weeks, you may be faced with the difficult choice of seeing your entire family including the difficult person, or not seeing your family at all in order to avoid this person.

I’ve personally struggled with this.  I cannot imagine experiencing a Christmas or Thanksgiving without being present at the family get-togethers (heck I host them now!). However, every time, there is one particular person who always finds a way to pick on me. Between his/her shady comments about my holiday decor or backhanded comments regarding my parenting – it can be exhausting and it used to take away my pleasure of hosting family dinners and enjoying the holidays. I will no longer allow this.

In the past, I’ve had a really hard time not taking the bait when this person would make backhanded comments or very obvious insults towards me.  I allowed his/her comments to hurt my feelings and I would end up dreading the holidays because I knew interactions with them were coming, and then I’d spend the holiday dinner “walking on eggshells”. 

Throughout 2019, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve become committed to strengthening the foundation of my inner peace. I no longer have any interest in changing or trying to reason with the toxic person in my life. Instead, I’m determined to enjoy the upcoming holiday gatherings despite their presence at them.


Without further ado, here are my 5 tips on how to deal with a toxic family member during the holidays:

  1. Be A “Gray Rock”

    Simply put, when interacting with the relative be boring.  Don’t feed into their attempts to gossip with you, don’t react or respond to their insults and don’t seek out their attention. The less attention you give them, the less of your emotion they can grab onto. There is some more information and a more detailed explanation of this technique here.

  2. Remind Yourself The Issue Is Them, Not You

    Normal people don’t go around trying to hurt other people’s feelings. There is nothing wrong with you if you have become the victim of a toxic relative’s insults and behavior. Don’t allow their words to brew in your head.

  3. Focus on The People Who Appreciate You

    You may not be able to completely avoid a toxic relative at family events but you don’t have to focus on them. Intentionally spend your time and energy on the people there you want to be with.

  4. Do Not Take the Bait To React

    This can be very challenging but if a toxic relative is saying or doing things to upset you or just get a reaction from you: do not give in. Your reaction is exactly what they are looking for. Refer back to the gray rock technique above. Change the subject. Walk away. Excuse yourself to the restroom. Don’t react emotionally to their behavior. You might feel compelled to call them out but in my experience, all this leads to is them calling you “crazy” or something to that affect.

    The second you react emotionally to their behavior they’ll suddenly become an Emmy award-winning actor playing the role of calm and innocence to make you look bad. It’s never worth it.


  5. Ask For Help

    If there happens to be another person present who understands your struggle with the toxic relative, try talking to them before the event. Ask them if they’d be ok with changing the subject of a conversation should they notice the toxic person trying to get a rise from you. Keep in mind though that not everybody always understands.

    Family dynamics can be very complex and confusing. Often times the toxic family member we are talking about is a narcissist who may have “flying monkeys” within the family who have no idea about their true nature. Make sure the person you confide in is one who truly understands what you are dealing with.


I hope that this post helps at least one person to navigate the struggle of facing a toxic family member during the holiday season.

If you have any other suggestions that you would like to share please post them in the comments.

As always thank you for reading and here’s to a wonderful 2019 Holiday Season!

Sending you love and light,


2 thoughts on “How To Deal With A Toxic Family Member During The Holidays

  1. wow, this was such a great read. i, too, struggle with holidays due to family issues, mainly. i always thought that maybe i’d just do my own thing with my own family this year but after reading this, i’ll give it another try. it’s nice to know that i am not alone with what i am feeling

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