We sat chatted with expert, Dr. Nicole Joseph, about the five things are never appropriate to talk about at the Thanksgiving table.
The Top 5 things That You Should Never Say at the Thanksgiving Table
1. Always/Never statements: “You never respect my decisions, Mom.” Saying always/never statements can be inflammatory and can spark a longer, more conflict-ridden discussion than is warranted for a holiday. Do not re-hash the past; save it for another day.
Instead: Say “I’m really enjoying the day and I think we should save that topic for another time.”
2. Nothing about the big three: Politics, Money, and Religion. You can plan to avoid these topics but do not expect that your family will avoid them. With this year being an election year this is especially important to be aware of. Remember: You can only control yourself and your reactions to other family members. You cannot control others!
Instead: Be prepared and say something neutral and uniting such as: “Well, no matter how we all voted, I felt proud that Americans stood in line for such a long time to exercise their right to vote.”
3. Embarrassing Stories about Others: Although this may seem like fun to some members, others may not be as appreciative. Thanksgiving is a holiday where we may bring a new significant other to meet our families. This is not the time to bring up embarrassments when so many stresses and expectations are a part of the day.
Instead: Prepare your family in advance if this is an issue and ask them specifically not to discuss embarrassments. If it comes up anyway, say, “Remember this is a baby story-free Thanksgiving?”
4. Negative Family Gossip: Sometimes people inadvertently stray onto the topic of family gossip and rumors because they do not know what else to discuss.
Instead: Redirect the conversation onto something more positive, such as: “I have an idea, why don’t we go around the table, person by person, and list what we are thankful for this year.”
5. Discussion of Eating or Drinking Habits: Thanksgiving is often a day of excess. This is not the day to comment on others’ food choices or weight. If a family member has a drinking problem that is uncomfortable, come up with a safety plan for yourself and your party, such as only going for appetizers or leaving if anyone feels uncomfortable with the climate at dinner.
Instead: Have a safety plan and graceful exit strategy in place. They can come in handy and are also a great way to prepare in advance.
Dr. Nicole Joseph is a licensed clinical psychologist who currently works for The Child and Family Counseling Group. Dr. Joseph has experience counseling individuals, couples, parents and families. She received her undergraduate degree from American University and finished her Masters and Doctorate at the American School of Professional Psychology. For more information about Dr. Joseph, check out her website.