Where are all the #Thanksgiving posts about family dysfunction?

This article was originally posted in 2014. 

Seriously, I can’t be the only one with insane in-laws and drama-filled holidays. But somehow everything I’m reading is about being thankful for your family, cooking amazing food, and relaxing with loved ones over the holiday.

What if instead of expressing thankfulness for your family, you’re trying to set boundaries and say “No,” to your family? What if instead of settling in for a fun holiday with laughs and good times, you’re crying with your spouse about how mean his family is, and yet how strongly he feels he wants to see them and be a part of their lives?

For us, that means dealing with my husband’s tendency to respond to abusive behavior to make everyone happy: No one has called to make plans? Well maybe they think we don’t want to talk to them, so we need to be nicer! Short-notice plans 3 hours away? Of course we should go, it’s cold not to!

One big happy family? Nah.

One big happy family? Nah.

This is more like it.

Translation: I’m stuck respecting his desire to have a relationship with his family of origin and battening down the hatches to protect him from their manipulative behavior. Oh yes, a holly jolly holiday for us.

Just once, I’d love to see a headline on The Huffington Post that reads “How to Deal With Dysfunctional In-Laws,” or “What to Do When Your Spouse Wants to See His Abusive Family.”

No, no sir. The media does not talk openly about dysfunctional family holidays. After all, that writer would have to put her name on the article and that would lead to a dysfunctional holiday indeed.

How about you: are you anticipating a typical happy holiday, or lots of stress and tears like us?


  1. Veronica Messegee

    You aren’t the only one. We just had our first cry/comfort session of the holiday season. Our setting boundaries led to no contact on both sides so we are left feeling like orphans. All the while everyone around us talks about getting together with their families and it’s crazy making. I think that most families experience some level of dysfunction but they avoid dealing with it, preferring to convince themselves otherwise. I think most hold on to the expectation of what could be and try to force it into being. For us the pain is still wanting the Norman Rockwell picture perfect family get together.

  2. Pingback: Supportive Blogs for Abusive Families | Sarcastic Catholic
  3. Eileen

    Oh my word, yes. Every holiday season, I go searching for affirmation that boundaries are healthy with dysfunctional families and I’m not the bad guy for not wanting to be crying at the end of Thanksgiving dinner because of my in-laws. Thanks for posting this. I like to see things from a Catholic perspective, too, because the family is quite insistent that Jesus loves everyone and we are all sinners, so even though mom is mean and nasty, we must still spend every holiday together because that’s just what families do. To which I say, “Yes, yes, and oh hell no.”

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