Summer Gatherings

Surviving the Summer Visit Home: Setting Realistic Expectations

It is time for the dreaded summer gathering with family.  Summer often conjures images of sun-soaked days and carefree relaxation, but it also heralds the season of family reunions. While some gatherings with loved ones are joyful and refreshing, others can be challenging, testing our patience and emotional resilience.

For entrepreneurs, the same optimistic spirit that drives our business success often fuels our approach to family interactions. We see every failure as a learning curve, and when others might give up, we push forward. This relentless drive doesn’t falter when it comes to family; despite past difficulties, we return, hoping each visit might turn out better than the last.

Leave the Unrealistic Expectations Behind

You might hope that this summer, Mom will finally recognize your achievements, Dad will understand and take pride in your career, your brother will pass an evening without a snide remark, and perhaps, this time, your sister will remember your partner’s name. However, as the old adage warns, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.’ Hope is invaluable, but it must be tempered with reality.

Instead of setting yourself up for disappointment with unrealistic expectations, consider adjusting your perspective. Accept that perhaps your mom still sees you as her little child, not the 32-year-old adult you are, or that your dad will suggest yet again that you apply for a ‘real job’ at the Post Office. It might be time to dismiss your brother’s insults as mere jealousy or ignorance, and accept that your sister may never be the attentive aunt or sister-in-law you hope for. These familial dynamics are common, and recognizing them can alleviate much of the tension.

Strategies for Summer Gatherings

Here are some tips to help manage your expectations and enjoy your visit this summer:

  • Identify Problematic Aspects: What part of the visit tends to cause stress? Can you reduce the time spent on these activities?  Sure there will be unexpected conflicts, but if you know how you are going to handle specific conflicts, it makes it easier for you.
  • Handle Difficult Relatives: Are there specific family members who trigger most of the friction? Think about ways to limit your interaction with them.  Setting boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not is a start.
  • Time Management: Be honest about how much time you actually need to spend with family. It’s perfectly acceptable to plan short, quality visits rather than prolonged engagements.  Perhaps set up time together in neutral locations.
  • Prepare Responses: Anticipate potential hot-button topics and prepare calm, non-reactive responses. This helps shift the balance of power in your favor, keeping you in control.
  • Maintain Positivity: Keep a smile on your face. It’s hard for others to bring you down when you appear genuinely happy and content. Sometimes, the act of smiling can also trick your brain into feeling happier.

Ultimately, while you can’t change your family’s behavior, you can control your reactions and how these interactions affect you. Focus on what you can control, and let go of the rest.  Summer visits can be a wonderful opportunity for reconnecting and creating new memories, but they also require us to navigate the complex dynamics of family relationships. By setting realistic expectations and preparing mentally, you can ensure that your summer family visit is as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Rev. Colleen Irwin
Reverend Colleen Irwin is a Spiritual being having a human experience as a Blogger, Wife, Mother, Mentor, Healer and Public Speaker living in Rochester New York. Colleen, a Natural Born Medium, teaches, lectures and serves Spirit when called upon. She remembers speaking with Spirit as a child and learning how to share this knowledge with others has been an adventure that she captured in her book “Discovering Your Stream”. Colleen has been mentored by Reverend Jack Rudy, and ordained as a Priest in the Order of Melchizedek by the Reverend Dan Chesboro through the Sanctuary of the Beloved. When she is not doing her Spiritual work she is a volunteer docent sharing Susan B. Anthony's history to visitors of the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester. Her trust in Spirit gave her a new title – PREVIVOR. She now uses her platform to educate others about the BRCA genetic mutation and how one can take control of their health and well-being.
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