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Coping With Difficult Relatives

Maybe it’s a cousin that always baits you into an argument, or makes derogatory ‘jokes’ about your weight. Or perhaps it’s a sibling or parent who tries to convince you that an episode of abuse in your childhood didn’t happen, or for heaven’s sake, wasn’t bad enough to justify cutting off contact with the offending individual.

In some cases, you might have to sever such a relationship to preserve your mental health. But say the situation isn’t that severe, or that you’re willing to maintain a certain amount of contact for some reason.

That means that at some point, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself cringing in anticipation of a Sunday dinner or holiday celebration. 

But are there things that you might be able to do to dissipate some of that tension, or make that next encounter easier?

That’s the premise behind this Good Times wellbeing feature from the summer of 2019: ‘Coping With Difficult Relatives.’

My heartfelt thanks to the interviewees who so generously shared their time and expertise:

  • Arlene Consky, who is a social worker with Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto.
  • Danna McDonald, a registered marriage and family therapist in Winnipeg.
  • Ellis Nicolson, a registered psychotherapist, registered marriage and family therapist and relationship specialist in Mississauga, Ont.


Photo by Alex Green Courtesy of Pexels