When facing a family visit, people often have ambivalent feelings, both wanting to make everyone happy and dreading the work and potential personal conflicts that loom ahead.
You may feel obligated to put everyone up at your house and prepare all the meals because you think it’s expected. While giving to others can be deeply fulfilling, it’s best to give at a level where you can do so wholeheartedly, rather than begrudgingly.
Instead of succumbing to what you think is expected, decide what you are willing to do.
If, for example, you are happy to prepare one meal, graciously invite everyone for that meal. “I invite you all for dinner on Friday night. On Saturday, we can go out,” or “You’re on your own.” And “You can pick up your favorite breakfast groceries at the store down the street.”
People like to know what is expected in the way of itinerary, sleeping arrangements, kids’ rules, and differing holiday traditions. If you clarify expectations and if you don’t promise too much, you can be giving and minimize exasperation. When you communicate clearly ahead of time, people are less likely to be disappointed because they understand the game plan.
If your relatives tend to ignore your requests and desires, then there’s no need to accommodate them with meals or housing, unless you are willing and able to live up to Mother Theresa’s philosophy: “People are generally irrational, unreasonable and selfish. Love them anyway.” You can still sound upbeat if you communicate warm-heartedly. For example, “That’s not a good weekend for us to have visitors. We would love to see you though if you come into town. Call us and we’ll meet up for coffee/a drink/lunch.”
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD