A father who looks at you with distrust when you approach him to tell him about another of your projects, a permanently irritated mother because you are an anthropologist instead of a lawyer … how can someone healthy grow up, in such an environment?
I’m sure that when those family gatherings approach where you have to meet that cousin who always flaunted his grades, or the aunt with the loud kisses, it makes you want to go to Chesterton’s grave and without preamble ask him what he was thinking when he said: “The place where children are born and men die, where freedom and love flourish, is not an office or a shop or a factory. There is where I see the importance of the family”.
Imagine scenes like this: a father who looks at you with suspicion when you approach him to tell him about some of your achievements, a mother permanently irritated because you are an anthropologist instead of a lawyer, and that stingy grandmother who always gave you a pair of bargain socks. How can someone grow healthily in such an environment?
When Jesus Christ was on earth, He went through a similar experience. It is enough to read the words of Mark and reflect on them a little: “There is no prophet without honor except in his own land, and among his relatives and in his house” (Mark 6: 4). Have you understood the panorama? The son of God had to deal with relatives who did not recognize him as such, perhaps with an aunt who told him on more than one occasion: “Find a serious job, go back to the carpentry” or a cousin who accused him of having friends of questionable reputation. There were some who accused him of madness (Mark 3:21), others took him to a cliff to throw him from there (Luke 4:29), while others did not even believe in him (John 7: 3-5).
Can you imagine the situation? She feeds five thousand people and her people ask her: “When are you going to grow up?” he resurrects his best friend and only gets a ton of doubts. Despite all this, Jesus never made a comment of contempt towards them or expressed feelings of anger because they did not believe in him, nor did he stop living his mission to feel accepted and recognized.
One recent afternoon, while thinking about how I could achieve a love similar to the one that Jesus Christ showed, I invented some crazy strategies that have worked for me in those familiar moments that sometimes become uncomfortable or annoying.
1. Pass the slices of cake or look for the camera
When a topic has gotten rough and you notice that the weather is tense, begin to spread the cake and praise how rich it is; If possible, give a larger chunk to those who are arguing. For a few minutes the weather will change, so take the opportunity to introduce another topic of conversation that everyone agrees on. If you have a family member who tends to get involved in everyone’s life and has a mastery of hurtful comments and hateful comparisons, before letting the anguish invade the meeting, find the camera and invite everyone to pose for the family photo. Something as simple as taking photos not only summons, but creates a pleasant environment.
2. Announce difficult news with humor
This is a way to set clear boundaries on those topics that you don’t want to discuss with the family. Suppose you are in a painful divorce process, your relationship is going through difficult times or your child is going through bad steps. You know very well that in these cases the family usually asks all the details of the situation, so go ahead and set a limit with humor. You could say, “Here comes the new divorcee,” “Gabriel is already in rehab,” or “She was younger than me.” Then say firmly: “But I came to be with the family and have a good time, the details are for after dessert.”
3. Ask for kitchen helpers
One way to reduce family tension is to ask those difficult family members to give you a hand in the kitchen, an ideal time to give them the opportunity to tell you those stories that you love and strengthen you so much. Asking your aunt to tell you about when she was locked in the barn is more effective than saying, “We don’t want to hear your criticism.”
In this regard, Christ left us a clear example: loving certain family members hurts, but “dying of love” for them still makes sense. In that sense, the following articles will surely be of interest to you:
I invite you to read: My father-in-law is a nuisance. You can also read: My mother-in-law, friend or foe?