Family Faux Pas

awkward family situations

Oh family events, how entertaining you can be. My family is loud. Whenever we gather together my husband, step-dad and brothers in-law slowly gravitate to the room with the television or outdoors. My mom, sisters and I congregate in the kitchen and talk. Loudly. We just enjoy being together and gossiping about whatever we’re obsessed with at the moment. But, families aren’t always perfect and there are bound to be awkward family situations now and again. Here are a few I’ve run into, and a couple tips on how to finagle your way out of them (with most of your dignity still intact).

Borrowing Money: Financial guru’s say you should never lend your family money. And I tend to agree. You should never let a family member “borrow” money you actually want back. This isn’t to say that some families can’t handle the tension or even that most borrowers won’t pay it back, but it is easier to skip a payment to a family member than the bank, as they tend to be more forgiving. If you still want to lend money to a family member, be clear about the terms and set up a payment plan and always consider whether you’d be okay writing the debt off the spare the relationship strain.

Step family: Step-family dynamics can be tricky, but when parents marry after the kids are grown, holidays can get a bit awkward. Because everyone is grown and moved out, there likely hasn’t been that bonding time you may have otherwise experienced. To make these situations less uncomfortable for everyone involved, make an honest effort to talk and be friendly when everyone is together. Don’t segregate yourselves in different rooms. You don’t necessarily have to add everyone to your gifting list, but you may be surprised how much a friendly conversation can defuse tension.

The awkward comment: Oh, so you just brought your new boyfriend/fiancé to meet the family and your mom or sister makes a comment about your weight (or worse, your boobs) in front of your new friend. Or maybe they ask whatever happened to the last guy you brought home. Awwwwkward. There are plenty of ways to handle this situation (yelling, stomping off and acting like a brat are not among your good choices.) Instead laugh, roll your eyes or exaggerate your embarrassment to make the situation lighter. If you are a real smooth talker you could even change the subject without reacting to the comment at all.

Divorce: Whether you are the divorcee or one of your family members is going through a divorce, the holidays and family gatherings might start to feel a little uncomfortable. Your family loves you and their comments may be well-intended, but they can still be painful or uncomfortable. If you are a divorcee, don’t avoid family functions to avoid questions. Surrounding yourself with family will make the adjustment a little bit easier (most of the time!) If you have a sibling or other family member going through a divorce, be nice. Feel free to ask how they are doing, but don’t start bashing on their ex-spouse, especially if the separation is new, it’ll only make them feel worse. Involve them in family activities and offer to watch their kids so they can get some alone time.

If your family is anything like mine, they are equal parts crazy and loving. While tension will inevitably arise, learning to handle the awkward situations like a pro, will help prevent relationship strain with the most important people in your life.

What awkward family situations have you encountered and how have you handled them?


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