Holiday Season May Serve Up Family Tension

By: Judy Fortin, Health Minute
By: Judy Fortin, Health Minute

Thanksgiving week is a time when families reunite and share holiday traditions.

But family gatherings can often be overshadowed by tension.

Painter Norman Rockwell captured the perfect family gathering at the dinner table, but in real life, holiday get togethers don't always have a happy ending.

"The holidays are like a pressure cooker, they put everyone together so anything that is there is likely to erupt," said Charles Raison, psychiatrist.

Psychiatrist Charles Raison says underlying family tension is very common and often re-emerges during the holidays.

"Families have real conflicts and there are real problems and most of the time families will deal with them the rest of the year by finding distances from each other," said Raison.

He suggests breaking the tension by starting new traditions that will be fun and liberating.

Communicating ahead of time and compromising may be the most realistic way to head off trouble.

"Everybody has to find their own compromise level, but the best way to extinguish this type of situation is for people to be honest about their expectations are. And, if people do that, they can really get ahead of the game," explained Raison.

And maybe have a real reason to celebrate the holidays. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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