I had my good sis and fellow blogger Tanae ask me to write about being the black sheep around your family during the holidays. I think this is an excellent topic to write on because, look here, Christmas Day is 9 days away, and so many of us will be interacting with our families before then!
So, how do we handle this? Let’s define what a black sheep is first…
The Oxford Languages dictionary defines the term “black sheep” as “a member of a family or group who is regarded as a disgrace to them.”
Yikes! 😳 To be honest, I didn’t realize the term “disgrace” was associated with this term! For some reason, I only thought of a black sheep being someone who is in stark contrast, or extremely different from the rest of the family.
Honestly and gratefully, I cannot speak from experience when it comes to this. And my heart breaks for those whose families see them as the black sheep. Maybe to part of your family, who you are is completely fine with them, but with others, they can’t help but point out what a disappointment you are, in their perspective. This is so difficult; and now that we know the definition, let’s dive into how those who are labeled “black sheep” of the family can survive the holidays being surrounded by them.
Having to face certain family members who view you as the black sheep, you gotta prepare your heart and mind for such a task as this. Because simply avoiding these family members may not be an option. So, be sure to be prepared in these ways…
- Stay prayed up. Seriously, step into this situation asking God to keep your spirit and mind protected. Pray for specific things: if you know that there could be possible arguments, ask God to give you the right words to say, or to even hold your tongue when you don’t want to say the right words. Pray that there would be peace made with a specific person during the visit/whole holiday season. Ask that God would give you the courage to start conversations with those who view you as the black sheep; these conversations could be ones that you’ve wanted to have, but were too afraid to start. God knows your heart, and the heart of your family, so trust Him to move!
- Confide in someone either within your family, or a friend outside of the family to check in on you while you’re around your family.Tell them to shoot you a text, call you, or pull you aside from everyone else, and ask how things are going. It should help to have someone who supports you checking your mental and spiritual states as you encounter your family!
- Set a time/times to leave / separate yourself. If you’re doing a short family visit, before you arrive, give yourself a time limit on how long you’ll be staying so you don’t drain yourself completely. If you’re staying for a prolonged amount of time with the family that sees you as the black sheep, be sure to have specific times throughout the day, or even specific days throughout the week/s where you have some alone time, or you do something fun for yourself away from everyone else. That way, you’ll be able to recharge, and not feel so claustrophobic staying around the same people who don’t view you too highly.
In the midst of all this, you have to remember that there are two sides to every story. While it is easier to see your perspective of how your family views you, or is treating you, they also have their own side with reasons as to why they see you as such. That doesn’t mean their reasons are right or wrong, but understanding this could help you bring less negative energy to the holiday season as you’re in each other’s presences. This may / may not be the year to dig into those reasons, so this is something that you could specifically pray for before you surround yourself with them!
be confident in who you are.
Your self-esteem and self-love can really tank if you’re around people who, as the definition states, “see you as a disgrace.” So, maybe when you’re taking a day or a moment to yourself, be sure to remember who you are, and why you do the things you do, act the way you act, say the things you say. Don’t let the doubt of other people cause you to doubt yourself! They may not understand you, but you do! Stick to that!
remember: you can’t please everyone.
This is HIGHLY important to remember through all of this. It may be easier to just agree, or to silently nod your head, or even not say anything if a family member is verbally pointing out your black sheep tendencies. Through all of it, just know that it is impossible to please everyone, and even though they are your family, they are still human, and still have expectations of others that cannot be fulfilled to their liking. Don’t allow people-pleasing pressure to cause you to question who you are, or to even force yourself to agree or change just so you don’t have to feel different around your family. I can imagine it is extremely difficult to have to feel the distance between you and these particular family members, but you are not for everyone…and that includes those who are related by blood, as harsh as that may sound.
These are just a few pieces of advice I can give to all my black sheeps out there! As I said, I don’t view myself as one in my own family, so I’m sure anyone who is considered to be one can give even greater advice from their own experiences as to how to survive the holidays. But I pray that the tips I gave can still help you get through the next couple of weeks as you enter the households of your relatives!
Do you consider yourself the black sheep of the family? If so, how do you handle being around them during the holidays? What are some things you do that help get you through this time of year?
If you’re NOT the black sheep of the family, but know someone who is labeled that within your own family, how can you try to see things from their perspective? How can you help them feel more comfortable, or even encourage them through the holidays with critical family members around?