Real Talk

Navigating Holiday Interactions: How to Set Boundaries, Stay Polite, and Be Respectful

From respecting the boundaries of our family members to staying polite, showing proper etiquette is a must during Christmas parties.

Sometimes, amid all the celebrations, we may unintentionally step on a few toes and cross a few of our family’s boundaries during the holidays. While we know there’s nothing malicious behind it, this can still hurt others who are having inner battles or other private problems.

So for the holidays, here are some guidelines on how you can respect those boundaries so everyone can still have a good time.

1. “Hi/Hello, (insert name here)” for younger people, “Good evening/Good morning, (insert name here)” for older people.

Although good evening or good morning sounds a little formal, those from the older generation still appreciate it. To them, it’s a sign that a person has class and that they were taught respect. Some feathers have been ruffled—especially by in-laws—because there’s a clear boundary and hierarchy among the elders.

Better to be too formal than too casual, to play it safe.

2. Don’t force kids to kiss or hug their relatives.

Some kids may not be too comfortable yet with physical touch and as parents, it’s our job to defend and uphold those boundaries with them. Although some relatives (especially the older ones) may be offended, our responsibility should be more to our child who is still exploring and learning.

Forcing them to kiss or hug relatives makes them feel unheard and repeated instances can teach them to ignore the boundaries that they want to set for themselves.

3. “Tumaba ka.” is not a way to say hello.

Although stoutness is often associated with being healthy, some are still accepting their bodies’ appearances. Some gain weight because it’s a side effect of their medicines or they’ve come from a medical procedure. Others are still working out so the progress hasn’t completely taken effect on their bodies. And there’s nothing wrong with asking “How are you?” or “How are things?”

Filipinos even have the traditional “Kamusta ka na?”

4. If you accidentally cross a boundary, just say “sorry” and move on.

The biggest reason why people fear asserting their boundaries during the holidays is because the situation escalates. Sometimes, people apologize too loudly which further triggers shame in the person asserting it. Other times, we’re scared to assert it because it can quickly kill the mood and nobody wants to be known as a party pooper.

In case it does happen, just quietly apologize and maybe excuse yourself for a bit to settle down.

5. If someone is leaving early, don’t shame them.

Not everybody is a party person. New parents have a routine to stick to so they’ll be leaving early. Older people like grandparents easily get tired too. So if they leave, best to thank them for even coming. The family reunion isn’t the only Christmas party they’ve probably attended this month!

6. Don’t ask couples about having kids.

While some know how to address the questions, not everyone is comfortable with answering the same question over and over. However, if some do, there are witty ways to dissuade them from asking the question again. Clue: financial stability is the most acceptable answer for them because they know how expensive it is to raise a child.

7. Don’t comment on people’s diets!

People eat the way they do because some food can cause them problems. Diabetics can’t have sugar, drivers are not allowed to drink until wasted, and those with philosophies need to steer clear of certain foods and dishes.

Although some of us may feel bad if not everyone tasted our culinary creations during the holidays, remind ourselves that their boundary for that is most likely nothing personal against us. Maybe they just have strict members from the food police and restrictions.

A happy celebration is one fueled with respect and empathy!

This doesn’t mean walking on eggshells, however. It’s just learning how to conduct oneself during the holidays. While there are some family members who we choose not to argue with to not rock the boat, there are others who are open to dialogue. Of course, when we do remind them about the boundary during the holidays, do so privately. There’s no need to publicly shame them during the holidays.

More about holidays?

How Moms Can Make Black Outfits Festive For The Holidays
Modern Parenting’s Here For The Holidays With Its 4th Magazine Issue!
Unique Things Families Can Do To Celebrate The Holidays 2023

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