Navigating Personal Boundaries With Family During the Pandemic

Zach Micklea

| 3 min read

Family keeping distance while visiting
As the pandemic continues and many restrictions are beginning to ease, some may be wondering which social and family events they should attend, if any at all. With major family holidays around the corner, many are trying to figure out how to attend these gatherings moving forward. With different personalities, tolerances for risk and situations that can alter our chances of spreading and contracting the virus, we need to assess how seriously it might affect us. How can we respect our different opinions on socializing safely during the holidays without causing rifts with our loved ones? Here are some tips as you weigh how to navigate this holiday season.


First, decide what your boundaries are and what kind of socializing you are comfortable with. It is up to you to set your own level of tolerance for risk. Identify the rules you will set for yourself, such as meeting with family outside but not joining them for a meal inside. Realize that the guidelines you set for yourself may change overtime, and that is okay. After determining your boundaries, communicate them clearly with your family ahead of time to let them know where you stand. While it may be uncomfortable to have that conversation, as family members may disagree or even feel insulted, rehearsing what you will say can help you present your decision clearly and non-defensively. Besides communicating your own preferences, ask about the rest of your family’s guidelines as well. Start by asking questions like “what types of gatherings are you comfortable with?” By asking your family questions, it shows that you want to respect their boundaries. Having this conversation can make you feel more connected and will allow your family to enjoy the time together, however it’s spent. Remember that it’s okay to say no. Even if your boundaries are reasonable, they can still be met with resistance. People in your family may try to make you feel guilty, but do not give in. Boundaries are a good thing, especially during this holiday season, when they’re meant to keep everyone safe and healthy.


The CDC has issued new guidelines on hosting and attending a holiday gathering. Take time to review them before you decide on your holiday plans. While it is important to keep the level of risk in mind, do not let COVID-19 dominate the conversation. Given everyone’s boundaries, it might be tempting to be the only thing you are thinking about but try not make it the only topic of conversation. The lingering pandemic means that you will probably have to put in more work to host or attend the holiday gatherings this year. Do not shy away from the effort needed to balance your boundaries while staying connected with your family. Our relationships with our family members are important and central to our mental health. This year, be sure to enjoy quality time with loved ones and take a break from the uncertain world we are living in while protecting yourself and loved ones. Related: Why a Healthy Thanksgiving Has an Entirely New Meaning This Year Diabetes and COVID-19: What You Should Know Depression Signs to Watch For as Quarantine Fatigue Sets In Photo credit: FG Trade

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