'Happy Women Live Better': Valorie Burton Shares 5 Rules for a Happy Family Reunion

Last Saturday night, I saw a sight I hadn't seen since before her massive aneurysm and brain surgery nearly 12 years ago: My 60-year-old mom dancing to Robin Thicke, fingers snapping, smile lighting up the room, walker pushed to the side, having a ball at our family reunion.

I smiled, too, savoring the pure joy of being among aunties and uncles and cousins. It's summertime - and that means family reunion time. Like so many African-American families, we come together every year - reconnecting, laughing, catching up and celebrating the legacy of those who came before us. In our case, it's the descendants of "Mama Amy" and "Daddy Joe," my great-grandparents.

I like going to family reunions because I actually like my family. We all speak to each other. There are no cliques. No drama. And like last Saturday night, we always have a good time. But I have coached hundreds of people over the years, and inevitably the issue of how to handle that diva of a cousin or drama-filled uncle at the family gathering comes up.

Can you relate? What do you do when dealing with certain relatives drains your energy or brings out the worst in you? Here are a few solutions for your having your happiest family reunion yet - even if you face some sticky dilemmas:

5 Rules for a Happy Family Reunion

  • Stick to the purpose.
Why are you going to the family reunion? Is it to connect or re-connect with relatives? Have fun? Then focus on what you want - not what you don't.  Smile. Play. Help out. Don't look for reasons to be offended. This is not the time for a showdown. If something needs to be discussed, have a private talk before you get there or after. Don't take the spotlight off of the reunion to deal with matters that can be discussed after the reunion.

  • Stop texting, start talking.
The purpose of a family reunion is to create a space in which you don't have to text and call - you get to see everybody in person. So put away the gadgets and enjoy each other.

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SOURCE: The Grio
Valorie Burton
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