Navigating Awkward Questions at Christmas: A Smart Girl’s Guide
Christmas is all about family. But as we all know, family can also be downright stressful. If your mother doesn’t ask you an awkward question about your love life, your grandma certainly will. Sometimes those well-meaning questions can feel like a full-on interrogation and answering them with grace can be a real challenge. Try not to panic! If you’re already anticipating a holiday shouting match, please don’t guzzle a gallon of mulled wine to cope.
Let us offer you a better plan.
We’ve picked out five of the most common, awkward questions and came up with some foolproof tips and responses to help you keep your cool this holiday season.
You’re still single/not married? Why?
You’re 25 and still single?
You’re 30 and not married?
You’re 35 and your long-term partner still hasn’t proposed? The relationship is probably doomed!
This question comes in many forms, but the crux of it is always the same: society seems to expect that certain ages are markers for key life events and if you miss them, you risk being left behind!
If you’ve been at the receiving end of any of these questions, you have likely felt under attack. Understandably, as these questions can cause you to question some pretty important life decisions. There is no life timeline you need to follow and it’s also no one else’s business how you structure your life (sorry, Grandma). However, family members are bound to ask anyway.
But there’s no need to get defensive.
If you are single, consider responding honestly by telling the truth about your last breakup or the interesting people you dated this year.
If you are in a relationship, let them know you are enjoying your time together without committing to marriage right now. If marriage is not for you, that’s OK too. Feel free to let your relatives know if you’re comfortable with that.
When are you planning on having kids / having another one?
If we could eliminate this question from existence, we would, but sadly, as soon as you’re married, it almost always gets asked. This is a particularly triggering question for any couples who have fertility challenges or have suffered through miscarriages.
If you feel comfortable and safe with the person asking the question, consider telling them about your plans, struggles or frustration. Sometimes sharing about loss or fertility issues can be healing.
If you don’t want to share, simply say, “That’s an interesting question and unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for you”.
Feeling cheeky? Maybe ask how their sex life is going!
If you already have children, you will inevitably get asked when you’ll start thinking about a second baby. It may seem that the ink on your first baby’s birth certificate has barely dried and yet, many women field this question on a near weekly basis.
Well-meaning though this question may be, many family members often underestimate the weight of this question. Consider deflecting it with a joke like, “Oh, as soon as we get bored of the first one!”
When are you getting a real job / Are you still in the same old job?
While this question may come from a place of good, the implicit meaning is that your chosen line of work is not acceptable. Try not to explode with anger.
Instead, consider that maybe they want to help. Ask if they have any suggestions for contacts in your industry or leads on new opportunities? You could even ask if they have any ideas for how you can break into a new industry. If they don’t, it should be enough to shut down the conversation pretty quickly.
You’re not a vegan now, are you?!
If you’ve routinely tucked into a giant leg of turkey at Christmas, the fact that meat is no longer on the menu could come as a shock to your family. But the fact is, many people are choosing to adjust their diets and this can be hard for family to understand when meat plays the starring role in a traditional Christmas dinner.
If you have changed how you eat since you last got together, speak from the heart. Tell your family honestly why you made the decision to eat differently and don’t pressure them to change. Nobody wants to be lectured or told what to do. Share your reasons and leave it at that.
Also, make it easy on the chef. If they didn’t know you’ve adopted a more plant-based lifestyle, avoid awkward feelings by chowing down on side dishes or offering to make your own plant-based meal to share.
What about an unexpected question?
We can’t predict every awkward question that may come up, but one sure fire way to manage them is to employ a handy diversion trick.
If you feel uncomfortable, try turning the conversation back to your family member by asking them how their work is going or what they’ve been up to. Most people love to talk about themselves so this can be a handy way to divert the attention away from yourself.
If all else fails, try humour. Laughter is a great way to break the tension and lighten the mood.
What’s the most awkward question you’ve been asked by a family member at Christmas? Leave us a comment or drop us a DM on Instagram!
Cheers to being a woman!
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