Do Family Conflicts Increase or Decrease at Christmas?

The family conflicts that occur at Christmas have usually been lying dormant for a long time. In fact, it's, being in close contact that tends to make existing disputes and misunderstandings come to light.
Do Family Conflicts Increase or Decrease at Christmas?

Last update: 16 December, 2021

They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year. However, family conflicts can often dull the spirit of joy and happiness that we tend to associate with Christmastime.

While it’s true that, for many families, Christmas is a celebration full of happiness and harmony, for others, it can be fraught with difficulties.

This prompts us to ask the question, do family conflicts increase or decrease at Christmastime? Well, there’s no definitive answer, since it depends, a great deal, on the communication style of the family concerned. Indeed, misunderstandings and disputes exist in all contexts, including the family one. Nobody gets along with everyone, and you naturally have more of an affinity with some people than others.

As a matter of fact, family conflicts aren’t usually generated at Christmas. They tend to be aggravated by the increase in close contact but were usually already there, lying dormant in the background. Consequently, for some families, family gatherings aren’t at all pleasant.

Sisters talking at Christmas

How to avoid family conflicts at Christmastime

Agreements in planning family reunions

Poor planning, coupled with a lack of agreement on where and how the family gathering is going to be, can be the spark that lights the fuse. Therefore, reaching an agreement on the preparations (venue, dishes to prepare etc) can play an essential role in avoiding family conflicts.

 Keep conversation topics neutral

In some families, there are certain topics that always generate controversy. For example, politics or other social issues. Consequently, it’s wise to avoid these.

In fact, it’s best to stick to conversations about personal experiences. For instance, you can tell your family about your last vacation, your hobbies, or something funny that happened at work to relax the atmosphere.

Control the consumption of alcohol

A group of Australian psychologists from the Jean Hailes Foundation has detected a high rate of disappointment with the expectations that Christmas generates. For this reason, they propose a change in habits in order to avoid tension.

“It can be a time when people drink too much and that can loosen constraints over what’s said and people can become too direct”, claims Professor Jane Fisher.

Disinhibition due to alcohol means you have less control over what you do or say. In fact, you cease to have ‘filters’ on your behavior. In other words, you’re more likely to get carried away without thinking about the consequences of your actions.

Controlled alcohol consumption could prevent these dormant unresolved conflicts from coming to light. As a matter of fact, family harmony is more likely to be maintained when alcohol isn’t involved.

Family toasting

Cordiality and respect: keep calm

In the event of a tense situation, it’s important to remain calm and remember that the main purpose of a family gathering is to have a pleasant and harmonious time. It means not getting carried away by a moment of anger or feeling angry about certain behaviors or comments from family members.

To do this, try taking a deep breath. Stop and think about all the reasons you want to have a good time with your family. This can help you control the anger that certain situations sometimes generate in you.

In short, you should show cordiality and respect when communicating in order to avoid family disputes. After all, you can still respect the beliefs and opinions of others, even if you don’t share them.

Remember that everyone has their own point of view.  Therefore you should respect them, listen to their points of view, and be respectful, even if it may be a bit difficult at times.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.