How to Respond to Invasive Personal Questions and Inappropriate Comments on Thanksgiving

This Halloween I heard someone say the most hilarious thing: “Let’s go to a haunted house but instead of scary monsters it’s 15 people asking you what you are doing with your life, who you’re voting for, and when you’re getting married…...oh wait, that’s Thanksgiving”. What is really sad is that that comment is very true! For a lot of people, Thanksgiving isn’t a pleasant family dinner; it is an uncomfortable evening filled with dodging invasive personal questions and inappropriate comments.

If you don’t have firm boundaries with your family, what is supposed to be a fun event can quickly turn sour.

Through my years as a therapist, I have found that there are usually 3 main categories where a family member can breach your boundaries at an event like a Thanksgiving dinner. Here are a few practical ways you can respond to these uncomfortable questions and comments that may come up this Holiday season:

Invasive Personal Questions:

Example: “When are you going to get married?”, “Why don’t you have babies yet, are you trying?”, “What does your love life look like these days?”

Response: “ I appreciate your interest but that’s a bit too personal of a question for me so I’d rather not answer. How are you enjoying your time tonight so far, I’m looking forward to those desserts!”

Politically Charged Questions:

Example: “So, who did you vote for this year?”, “Can you believe what Trump did last week?”, “I can’t believe you’re a (Democrat/Republican/Independent), have you lost your mind?”

Response: “Let’s keep tonight fun and light, you know how talking about politics can get. I’d love to discuss politics and policies with you and hear your views another time.”

Inappropriate Comments:

Example: “You’ve grown up so much, you’re looking like a full-grown sexy woman/man”, “If only we weren’t related, I’d have picked you up a long time ago”, “Look at you, give me a spin so I can see that body you’ve grown into”

Response: “I’m sure you didn’t mean it inappropriately but that comment makes me feel uncomfortable. Let’s talk about something else - the food smells amazing this year!”

Maintaining firm boundaries can be difficult and it doesn’t get any easier when it’s your own family. If you are afraid of going to family events for fear of facing these types of questions, I’d love to help you practice these responses and others. You can email or call my office at (310) 614-0323 to set up a time to discuss. With just a little help you can set yourself up for a fun and comfortable Holiday season.