How to handle heated discussions at the Thanksgiving dinner table

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 9:00 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Let’s face it, Thanksgiving dinner can be awkward.

Family members are coming together, some for the first time in years.

“What I like to say is to try to keep conversations light-hearted and fun,” said Katrina Iszler, a mental health therapist at Solace Counseling.

Oftentimes, difficult topics like money, politics, or health-related issues come up.

“Those conversations are emotionally loaded,” said Iszler. “It can just bring up a lot of feelings and emotions that we maybe just don’t want to have during the holidays.”

Iszler says it’s important to have boundaries.

“I would listen judgment-free. If someone tries to engage you in those conversations, simply say I don’t feel comfortable talking about that. Even politely excuse yourself, if necessary,” she said.

Mental health is another topic that may come up.

Iszler says addressing a specific family member’s mental health is not appropriate adding that those who are struggling should be kind to themselves this holiday season.

“Use coping skills, take some deep breaths,” said Iszler. “The holidays can be super overwhelming with all the people and how our climate is, so just be easy and gentle on yourself.”

Iszler says if you do have to have a difficult discussion, try to do it privately instead of at the dinner table.

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