Curious & Curiouser Podcast, Episode 34: How to Navigate Challenging Family Dynamics, Set Clear Boundaries, & Actually Enjoy the Holidays This Year

How do you make the most of challenging family dynamics during obligatory holiday events?

Good question, huh? On this week’s episode of Curious & Curiouser, Tracey and I are attempting to answer it and offering some advice about how to set clear but compassionate boundaries with family members as the holiday season approaches.

This conversation is full of practical, actionable tips from Tracey, who is very knowledgeable and skilled when it comes to family systems and helping folks navigate challenging familial relationships. And I share some thoughts about what’s worked for me in trying to adjust to some changing family dynamics in my own life over the past couple of years.

Tracey and I hope this discussion is helpful for those of you who might be dreading the holidays and are unsure about what to do differently this year to make the most out of the obligatory family functions that are often a part of the season.

As always, reviews and 5-star ratings are appreciated, so if you enjoy this episode and find it insightful, enjoyable, and/or amusing, please consider hopping over to the show page in iTunes to tell other folks how much you’re loving this podcast. Tracey and I would really appreciate it!

Subscribe:  iTunes | RSS

Direct Download (Right click to download)

Highlights from this episode:

  • The obligatory feeling that often arises around the holidays
  • Do you get to opt out of holiday events?
  • The importance of having reasonable, clear expectations
  • What if you’re the one who always has to travel to see family?
  • Family systems theory and the challenge of breaking out of old family patterns and dynamics
  • Make a plan ahead of time, especially for dealing with “grey couch people” in your family
  • Should you talk to your kids about challenging family dynamics? (i.e. A mother-in-law who isn’t kind to your partner.)
  • The importance of compassion with boundaries
  • The Boundary Book by
  • John Gottman and the Gottman Institute
  • The benefit of therapy as preventative medicine in anticipation of the holidays
  • What if you’re the one who’s always accommodating your family?
  • Is it ok to ignore the elephant in the room temporarily during holiday events?
  • Forgive For Good by Fred Luskin
  • Episode 33 about fear and relinquishing control
  • Dear Sugars podcast about parent estrangement
  • Tracey advice for how curiosity can help you navigate holiday events with family?
  • And more!

Piquing Our Curiosity:

App controlled lightbulbs, like these from Easybulb. You can dim your lights, put a timer on your lights, use them as your alarm in the morning, change the color of your lights, and even stream music through your lights. What? I know. Check them out. And if you find a brand you find especially love, let us know! We’d love your feedback!


Remember, if you have any topics or questions you’d like us to address in a future episode, comment here or email us at our joint email account: We’d love to hear from you!

Finally, one more request for you to please head over to iTunes and leave us a 5-star rating and/or review if you’re enjoying the podcast. Please note that you have to search for Curious & Curiouser in iTunes in order to leave a review — even if you’re already subscribed. Thanks so much for the support and for taking this annoying extra step to rate us. We really appreciate it!