Tips on how to deal with difficult family dynamics and conversations during the holidays

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Tuesday, November 14, 2023
How to navigate difficult family dynamics during the holidays
Dr. Andres Ojeda from the Baylor College of Medicine shares tips on dealing with difficult family dynamics and conversations during the holidays.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Dealing with different family dynamics can add to holiday stress, but according to a psychologist ABC13 spoke with, it doesn't have to be if you prepare now.

Dr. Andres Ojeda, an associate professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine, says to start mentally preparing for a positive outcome. That's where you should begin.

If you're hosting this year, Ojeda says to write down some ground rules and let your guests know your expectations before everyone agrees to attend.

You can make rules like no talking politics or difficult conversations until after the big meal.

Also, he says to set a time limit for how long a difficult conversation will last. Ojeda says if you want a "good" conversation, it should only last 30 minutes to an hour because your average person will only actively participate for that long.

"Your main attention is around 45 minutes. A conversation longer than 45 minutes, most of the time, your mind starts getting off of the topic," he said.

Lastly, when dealing with a narcissist, Ojeda says to recognize that their personality will only see what he refers to as black-and-white thinking. There's no gray area or "middle ground."

In life, he says you have to see gray to get along and coexist with others. He suggests being neutral and don't critique them.

"Sometimes you need to find a middle ground like, you can do this but maybe not this... and people with black-and-white thinking, it's really challenging because it's like all or nothing at all," Ojeda continued.

Ojeda also suggests using the 10-second rule. Before responding, give yourself a few seconds to really think about your words and response. While this can be extremely difficult, he says the bottom line is if you don't respect the rule and follow some of these suggestions, it will be even tougher to move your difficult conversations forward.

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