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Christmas causes family tensions

The dreaded conversation about who to have Christmas dinner with can cause huge problems and rifts in families


According to a study, tensions between in-laws and men’s wives are a major cause of long-term family rows.

Researchers from Cambridge University found those kind of rifts usually last a third longer than fallouts involving daughters.

It found mums and dads are more likely to lose touch with their sons than their daughters after they get married.

One respondent in the survey, involving almost 1,000 people, said: ‘My son and I had a very strong loving relationship for 25 years.

“He met his soon-to-be wife and our relationship and his relationships with everyone on his side slowly went away.

“Everyone that knew him including friends and family saw this and felt this. He disowned anyone that does not like his wife.”

Researchers from the University of Cambridge worked alongside the charity Stand Alone, which provides support to adults that are estranged from their family or a key family member. 

The Christmas period was found to be a key time of challenge for 90 per cent of families.

Dr Lucy Blake from the university’s Centre for Family Research, said: “There’s a strong societal expectation of what a family looks like.

“Social media plays a part too because it’s a highlight reel of people’s family lives, with Facebook feeds filled with pictures of families celebrating together.

“The reality doesn’t always look like this, but people often find it difficult to talk about that.”

Dealing with the stigma surrounding the topic of family estrangement was highlighted by 68 per cent of people as an issue.

Many described feeling judged and as if they were contradicting societal expectations.

For help and support when it comes to dealing with estranged families visit:

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