“Thanksgiving is an emotional time. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they see only once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.” ~ Johnny Carson
Does this sound familiar? What if this is the year that tough conversations need to take place with parents and siblings about caregiving? How about if you know your kids are spending way above their lifestyle with no savings and it’s driving you crazy?
No one wants to ruin the holidays with awkward conversations or arguments. However, with today’s spread out families, it can be hard to have face-to-face discussions about important issues at any other time.
Here are 3 tips to combining family business with holiday celebrations:
- Delay the conversation until after the holiday: If you need to stay an extra day this year to discuss family business, plan for it. Also let your siblings, parents, or kids know that you have some ideas you’d like to discuss during the extra time together. That lets the others know that it won’t all be about Black Friday bargains.
- Start with an outside example: If you are worried about your parents’ finances in retirement or your kids’ lack of an emergency fund, bring up a story about another friend or news article you read about the subject. Family may naturally open up about their preparedness for a similar situation. Or you could ask an open ended questions like, “How do you see yourself spending time in retirement?” Avoid confrontational questions like, “How much do you have saved in your emergency fund?”
- Prepare the adult kids for changes: Sometimes parents are planning to sell the family home, need to live on a tighter budget, or plan to move away from their kids for various reasons. Boomer divorce rates are, well, booming, as people retire and realize they don’t want to spend the next 20 years of downtime with the person they raised the family with. Again, this conversation may not be appropriate over pecan pie (you might ruin pecan pie for your kids forever and that would be sad), but you should carve out some time prior to everyone leaving to have the talk.
Remember, as life situations change, our relationships change, too. It’s important to treat your family members as adults, prepare to compromise, and don’t overreact to big changes. Some time to digest family news before making huge decisions or dramatic statements will benefit everyone. Maybe we can all just relax over Christmas!