Do You Resent Your Family Because They Aren't Helpful on Thanksgiving?

boundaries conflict management home culture interpersonal relationships transferring responsibility Nov 24, 2020
Do you already resent your kids and your spouse a bit because you expect them to be less-than-helpful on Thanksgiving Day? If so, here is a strategy that will help you alleviate some of this resentment now, and for all future holidays and celebrations ... 
Call a family meeting in advance and let your children and your spouse know what you need from them so that the day feels good to you. 
However, instead of lecturing them about how they have failed you by being less-than-helpful and inconsiderate in the past; how you are always responsible for both the cooking and the cleaning; and how you have already planned the menu, done the shopping, and timed the delivery of appetizers, turkey, and all side dishes, use this formula for communicating your needs ...
1. Start from a place of self-care and describe (in positive terms) what you want the day to be like for yourself. 
2. Without blaming, lecturing, or bringing up past infractions, state what you need exactly from each of your family members so that you feel supported. 
It might sound like this: 
"I would really like to feel relaxed, included, loved, and supported on Thanksgiving Day. I know I will be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, and I am excited to be able to provide a Thanksgiving meal for our family. That said, I would very much like it if the cooking and cleaning felt like a family endeavor so that we can enjoy the day together. To that end, I need each of you to choose one dish that you are responsible for helping me prepare.  I also need each of you to take turns helping me in the kitchen throughout the day. And since I am taking the lead on cooking, I need the rest of you to be responsible for helping with cleanup throughout the day and after dinner. Let's talk now about what this looks like so we are all on the same page." 
The truth is, your family members don't know what you need unless you tell them. They might have a habit of staying out of the kitchen during large celebrations because you seem cranky and they want to stay out of your way. Unless you tell them otherwise, this might be their strategy for every holiday in the future. This conversation gives them a chance to discuss what they can and should do to be helpful. 
Then again, your family might truly be a little bit inconsiderate when it comes to large holiday celebrations. When you have a non-judgmental conversation in advance, it invites them to rise to the occasion and meet reasonable expectations for being a supportive member of a family unit. 
And of course, there is the possibility that they will not rise to the occasion and help in a meaningful way. If that’s the case, knowing this upfront will allow you to decide if you might alter your plans in any way to take care of yourself.

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