Yesenia Jones | Staff Writer

Winter break comes with its perks. It’s the holiday season, it’s an extended break and if you celebrate Christmas, then it’s a time to give and receive gifts. One of the cons of winter break and the holiday season is that you are forced to spend time with your problematic uncles, aunties and cousins as your family comes together for this joyous time of year.

My family contains people from across the political spectrum—ranging from super liberal to hardcore Republican. I identify as a liberal Democrat, so hearing my conservative family members bring up issues like Colin Kaepernick, immigration and gun control causes a two-sided debate that becomes so intense, you’d think we were in a courtroom and not at the dinner table.

These arguments seem to never end and create tension in the household that lasts throughout the holiday season. It’s exhausting and no one ever wins.

On the other hand, you have relatives who want to bring up all of your bad decisions and tell you everything that you’ve done wrong while neglecting to look at the man in the mirror.

In order to deal with these problematic family members, it’s essential that you practice self-care.

Practicing self-care doesn’t always have to mean pulling out a face mask and all of the bath bombs that you own. It must be tailored to each situation and can sometimes be more impactful than you think.

In cases of dealing with stubborn family members who can build cases as strong as Johnnie Cochran and Robert Kardashian, your self-care needs to be intentional and unique to the situation.

I often find myself to practicing self-care in these situations by simply walking away. This is difficult for me since I have a hard time submitting to someone who agrees with conservative ideologies and lacks knowledge of basic human rights. I too often believe that morality and having a basic conceptualization of human rights should be common sense but I have learned in my 20 years of life that it’s not.

While this may seem submissive, it’s important to recognize that you cannot ‘teach an old dog new tricks,’ and by this I mean it’s important to understand that sometimes you cannot change a person. You may simply express your truth and hope that they understand it. If they don’t accept your truth, then you must move on.

Don’t waste your energy on those who are only attempting to waste your time with argumentative claims that can never be agreed upon. You must either accept the person for who they are or simply expel them from your life.

Choosing to expel someone from your life or keep them in it may also mean that you need to create a strict set of boundaries to make clear to your family members. Let them know what you feel comfortable discussing and things that you believe should be avoided. You should specifically meet with the problematic family member and let them know the boundaries you would like to set.

Your family members may blow you off or they might listen to you—either way, if you stick to your boundaries and remove yourself when those boundaries are crossed, your family members will begin to understand how serious you are. And if they don’t take into consideration your desires and don’t value quality time with you over the protection of their ego, then it may be time to consider cutting them off.

Their issues and racist ways are not your fault, and in order to maintain your own mental sanity, you need to recognize that sometimes practicing self-care means simply doing what allows you to maintain your happiness and peace.

During your winter break, make your peace and happiness a priority by setting boundaries with problematic family members or choosing to remove them from your life.