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How to avoid conflict when you decline your family's invitation to Thanksgiving

After a stressful election season and with the ongoing pandemic, body language expert Blanca Cobb shows us how to deal with family this year on Thanksgiving.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The holidays can be stressful for many people from dreading any family drama to deciding who to visit. Now, add in the coronavirus pandemic, you have additional stress that you didn’t have last year.

Making the decision about whether to visit family during the pandemic can be difficult because everyone has a different idea of what’s right. But, it’s actually what’s right for you. And the unspoken message that someone is wrong if they don’t see the situation as you do. Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you don’t think it’s a good idea to visit your parents for Thanksgiving because you don’t want to risk unknowingly exposing them to COVID. But your sibling is still going to visit your parents. The unspoken message can be that they’re inconsiderate. Or, that you’re too cautious.

A way to avoid these unspoken messages is to not take the bait and stick to the facts. If your parent says, “Well, your sister is still coming to visit. She’s been careful with not catching the virus.” Your response should be neutral. You can say something like, “Ok, that’s her decision. I see the situation differently. I’m not comfortable traveling and I don’t want to expose you to anything. I believe it’s safer this way. Since I won’t be in person, I’d like for us to have Thanksgiving together on FaceTime.” Having a solution when you share potentially disappointing news can help ease the disappointment.

If you decide to visit family for Thanksgiving, then talk about the safety precautions that will make you comfortable when you’re visiting. Is it keeping 6-feet apart? Or, is it wearing face masks? What is your position about hugging family members? Talking about these safety precautions ahead of time with family will help curb any problems when you’re there so it doesn’t catch anyone off guard.

Share your thoughts on my Facebook page: Blanca Cobb – Body Language Expert. Write a message on my timeline and I’ll get back to you. While you’re on my page, I’d appreciate it if you give it a “like."