How to Avoid Annoying Family Questions

Everyone knows that when you come home for the holidays, you will be bombarded with hugs, kisses and those invasive questions about your love life and future plans. Here are a couple quick tips to help you navigate through these murky waters. 

1. Are you dating anyone yet?

Of course. That one aunt that you never see is trying to relate to you, but she is just not hitting the right marks. She has the best intentions, but it is just not working out for either of you. The best way around this one is to answer honestly. Calmly say yes or no, and leave it at that. Then, change the subject back around to your relatives. If they can’t take a hint, explain that you are happy in whatever place you are. Besides, college is for learning and having fun. Boys do not need to be present for either!

2. When are you getting married?

For those of you lucky ladies in committed relationships, this question can be just as daunting. You’re only 18-22! You have your whole life ahead of you! Marriage isn’t something that is necessary to discuss yet! This is especially painful if your significant other is over for the holidays with your family for the first time. No worries, you’re calm and collected. Again, the best way to approach this is to answer honestly and briefly. Don’t put any emotion into it. Simply reply, “I don’t know,” and leave it at that. Marriage is a HUGE step and no one wants to feel pressured. You can discuss this when you are ready. Your family doesn’t get to decide that.

3. When are you getting a real job?

For any undergrad, post grad, and living person, this question can pop up from your successful cousins and rich parents who decided that your degree/career choice/current job is not as good as they think it could be. First of all, they are just trying to show they care in a terribly misworded way. They are curious about your job plans and career, so tell them about it! Give them a game plan and reassure people that, yes, you do know what you are doing. All kinds of jobs exist and no one career is meant for everyone. You do you, girly. Additionally, if you are like thousands of other people who aren’t quite sure how to approach the idea of a career, explain that in a positive way. An example of this dialogue could go something like this:

**At dinner table, fine china is everywhere**

Grandpa Bob: SO! What have you done with that degree?

You: Well Grandpa, I’m so glad that you asked. I am currently working on my degree in Psychology.

Grandpa: How are you gonna make any money out of that?

You: (**CALMLY**) The field I am going into has plenty of options. I am beginning the look into the different qualifications needed for them all!

Then you can gently turn the conversation into stories about them when they were younger. Grandparents love that, and the conversation has effectively been dealt with! Good job!

4. What are your future plans?

Yikes. This one is a toughie because, let’s be honest, no one really knows the future. This can come from anyone at any time, and this response is good to have in your back pocket just in case. The future is a scary, daunting place where anything can happen. In the same way, it is just as possible for good things to happen! If you have a future plan, practice your speech before you head off to dinner at your cousin’s house. If not, emphasize the optimism! Say, “I am keeping my options open, and I have time to figure things out.” Because you do. Keep a level head, and don’t try to fight fire with fire.

5. Anything about negative appearances.

Okay, now they are just being rude. Any of the following offenders are key suspects:

“Have you gained weight?”

“Should you be eating that?”

“How much have you had to eat today?”

Anything that makes you feel less than respected and beautiful is something that is inappropriate for conversation at the dinner table. Who cares if you ate four slices of pie already? It is your body and your life. Also, pie is good. The best way to combat these backhanded comments is with the most powerful weapon of all: humor! If you can make yourself smile after these comments, you are in control of the situation. Say your yoga-obsessed cousin stops you as you reach for more mashed potatoes and says, “Wow Shannon, should you really be eating that?” You can counter back and say, “Oh wow I guess this is what being home does to you. I’ll eat anything that’s not caf food!” Leave it at that. You have won, and she can watch you be happy with yourself.

6. Miscellaneous questions.

These are only the generic questions. Many times there will be things that you don’t know how to respond to and that’s okay! Your secret weapon is this: “Why do you ask?” This throws the question back and them, and gives you time to think. As they explain themselves, you can hear them trip over their words and realize the error of their ways.

Remember, you only get one family, and even though they drive you nuts, they love you. Eat your turkey and stuffing and enjoy yourself on your break!