In a perfect world, we would all get along with our families. But here in reality, family is, well, family. Especially during the holidays. It’s an emotionally charged time when we’re expected to be on our best behavior and generous with gifts. But as soon as someone says the wrong thing, long-held grudges come to the surface. To help you avoid this, we tapped Dr. Sarah Y. Vinson, assistant professor in psychiatry at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, for some advice on what not to bring up at the dinner table this season.
1. How Much Something Cost
Let’s say your brother just bought a home in a fancy new high rise. Naturally, you’d want to know what it cost. But just as it’s nosy to ask about someone’s salary, it’s rude to ask how much they paid for their home (or anything else), says Vinson. “That’s a really personal question to shy away from, as it can tell a lot about someone’s status” and potentially cause resentment. If someone feels comfortable discussing it, they’ll say so. Otherwise let it be.
2. What Makes You Angry
You’d think most people wouldn’t need a reminder not to dredge up old baggage. But it happens constantly, says Vinson, especially when it’s money-related. There may be anger over an outstanding loan or someone may feel mad about co-signing a sibling’s mortgage. Whatever the issue, aim to discuss it in private and at a time when you can speak clearly.
3. Your Children’s Allowance
Discussing your children’s allowance seems like a harmless enough topic, but issues around kids and how much they’re getting may cause other family members to look at you differently. They may not agree with your approach or wonder why you have enough to open a trust fund but not give a loan. “This is a big parent decision that’s up to them,” Vinson says, but while the holidays are a good time to discuss your children’s allowance with your partner, it’s best to do it away from extended family, who are likely to judge.
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