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Families can be volatile and, as the celebrations approach, the pressure to get everything right can make an explosion more likely. Instead of striving for perfection, says psychologist Lucy Beresford, maybe do things differently…


Even if our relationships with our family members are harmonious, the holidays can bring out the worst in us, despite our best efforts. It’s a family-centred time, with expectations of peace and wellbeing, so we bite our lip and try not to regress to childhood.

The first thing to recognise is that these celebrations can be stuffed with traditions that society has evolved for centuries, and that, within families, there are even more specific traditions to which we all adhere, in order to feel connected. Some components of the holidays are decided within families and rarely negotiated over the decades. By sticking to ‘what we always do’, families make themselves feel safe.

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Psychologies December 2016 - Stop Sibling Rivalry