Megan Bodenschatz

Can We Leave Now?: How to Survive Tough Family Parties

It’s the Christmas season and that means carols, cookies, and remembering which week you light the pink advent candle. It also means family get-togethers and the inevitable gauntlet of questions and comments like:

“My nephew got accepted to Harvard. Where are you going to college?”

“I can’t believe your parents let you cut your hair that way; it looks… interesting.”

“My boyfriend and I are celebrating our six month anniversary. Why aren’t you dating anybody?”

“You got a part time job? Well so did your cousin and he’s making a lot of money.”

What is it about a conversation with a family member, even a well meaning one, that makes you question your entire life’s meaning? Your goals, friends, pastimes, sense of style— sometimes it can seem like they are all judged and found lacking. You walk in the door to the party as a confident young person and leave feeling like you just aren’t good enough.

Remember that first of all, God loves you unconditionally. He doesn’t love you only if you pass chemistry or if you get a prestigious job; He loves you no matter what. Even if other people in your life base their love and acceptance of you on your accomplishments, He doesn’t.

God also has a plan for you. It may not be “The Plan,” (study hard, go to college, get a well-paying job, get married, and have kids) and it may be full of twists and turns, ups and downs, but it is a plan for good.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Someone may not think much of how your life is going now, but we never know what God has in store for us.

So here are some things to tell yourself in the middle of the party when things get rough:

This party will be over soon. I can put up with this for a few more hours.

  1. Everybody makes mistakes. I don’t have to be perfect.
  2. I can be happy even if I’m not dating anyone.
  3. I’m satisfied with the way my life is and I don’t need anyone else’s approval.
  4. I am a worthwhile, lovable, and valuable person no matter what. My worth isn’t based on my accomplishments.
  5. My life doesn’t have to meet anyone else’s expectations.
  6. I may be unhappy with some things in my life right now, but I’m working on them and I’m confident that in the future they will change.
  7. I am still a good person even if other people don’t approve of my life.
  8. My religious beliefs are still true even if my relatives disagree with me.
  9. I don’t have to convert my relatives; God will change their hearts. I just have to love them and explain my beliefs to the best of my ability.

I hope these phrases make getting through the family shindig easier. I plan to write them down and keep them in my pocket (and escape to Barnes and Noble for a latte if it gets too uncomfortable).

I also plan on praying before the party to ask the Holy Spirit for strength and wisdom, offering up any of my sufferings during the party, and praying afterwards in Thanksgiving. I encourage you to do the same.

Happy Christmas!

Megan Bodenschatz

About the Author

I will read anything that stands still long enough. I also love going to the movies, meeting people from other countries, and spending time with my 16 cousins. I usually win the "Youngest-Person-at-Daily-Mass Award" whenever I go.