Well, with all of the heavy issues going on in the world, it’s easy to forget that we’re in the middle of family reunion season.
A few days back, I read an article in The Grio by life coach Valorie Burton about the important role family reunions play, especially in the African American community.
Reunions have always been a time for us to reconnect with each other while sharing food, laughter and stories, some wonderful and some not so family-friendly.
But, there’s something else black families have been known to share at family reunions and that is: drama.
That’s right, many a longstanding blood feud has been rekindled at these special occasions over such important things like money, card games and sports; over who stole whose boyfriend in high school; and the ever-significant, “I’m not talking to her because she ruined my wedding…”
Yeah, things can get really ugly. that’s why Burton suggests 5 Rules for a Happy Family Reunion.
Rule#1: “Stick to the purpose”. Meaning family reunions are not a time for anticipated showdowns or for airing out controversial matters that can be discussed at other more appropriate times.
Rule #2: “Stop texting, start talking”. Reunions are also not a time for electronic overload, so you should put away the gadgets and enjoy each other.
Rule#3: And this is a big one. “Stop letting folks push your buttons”. Burton says the “main reason people push your buttons is because they get a response that allows them to control you, your emotions and your behavior.” She encourages us to “deactivate those buttons” by not taking the bait; try walking away from conflict or responding in a respectful tone.
Rule #4: “Let people be who they are”. Most likely, as we should know by now, our family members are not going to change. If Aunt Sarah has put too much vinegar in the potato salad every year, guess what? If Cousin Junior smells like the brewery and spits whenever he pronounces the letter S, you’re in for a long conversation. Deal with it and wear your goggles next year.
Rule #5: “Play!” Use use the time to take our minds off the serious or annoying stuff and focus on celebrating and enjoying each other. After all, this special occasion usually happens only once a year and we should spend it having fun.
I’ll close with this from author Anthony Brandt. He reminds us that:
“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.
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