Surviving the Holidays – Part 2, Know Your Lines


Welcome to Surviving the Holidays as a Highly Sensitive Homeschooler.

Today I’d like to talk a bit about boundaries and how to keep them with style and grace.


As a highly sensitive person, having personal boundaries is essential to your mental and physical health.

Boundaries communicate to others just how far you will let them go emotionally and physically, and no further.

However, they can be excruciatingly difficult for many HSPs, who in general care strongly for others and can see many sides of an issue.

We’ve also been taught to be people pleasers,  and that our needs aren’t really needs, they are “being picky” or “too sensitive.”

Some tips to deal sensitively with others during the holidays (and any day!):

Practice, practice, practice –  If you know you will be at a party with that nosy neighbor who always derides homeschooling, or your Uncle Bobo who tends to drink a little too much…or that your 5-year-old will melt down past 7 PM at a noisy party, or YOU will,  come up with a few lines in advance that make your stance about your boundaries clear.

This means you do need to know your boundaries beforehand. Take some time to reiterate where you stand on various issues that are certain to come up, and why you feel that way. Knowing what things you value above others helps. For example you may value your relationship with your mother-in-law over any minor (or major) topic, so you can just nod and smile when she brings up politics yet again, because you value her over you “being right.”  You may value your child’s autonomy about wanting to leave a difficult situation for her, over the head shakes and critical smirks of your sister regarding needing to leave early.  Take heart and strength in knowing you are doing what is right for you and those you care for.

I can’t say enough good things about empathy and being kind. Watch your tone of voice and your word choice if you need to maintain relationships with these people you are meeting this holiday season.  I personally feel being kind is necessary for even people I won’t see again, but maybe that is just me. 🙂   There is a huge difference between saying curtly to your mom, “I didn’t ask for your input on this,” and saying, with warmth and a smile, “I appreciate your thoughts and your conern, but we’ve put much thought into this and it’s what we feel led to do.” Even if you’ve had to say this 15 times this month.  The more you come across with warmth and appreciation for the speaker, the more (in general) you will come across as having your act together.  That helps convince others you might actually know what you are talking about. (Sorry, my sarcasm is starting to leak out.)

No is a full sentence. 

It really is.

A t-shirt with this image on it can be bought at

Along those lines, no explanation is necessary.

You don’t owe anyone an explanation of why you don’t want to or can’t go to the party tomorrow, or why you won’t put your kids in public school, or why you vote Republican, or like pomegranate juice.

Repeat after me:

“No.” *smile*

“No I can’t. Hopefully next year.” *smile*

“No thank you.” *smile*

“That’s  an interesting thought.”  *smile*  “Have you talked to Joan yet? I’m so glad she’s could make it.”

“I appreciate your concern.  Can I get you a refill on your drink?”

“This is better for us AND all of you, trust me, ” said with a laugh and a wink, as you leave with your tired child.

Imagine yourself strong and above this.

I find it helpful to imagine myself surrounded by preschoolers.  I wouldn’t flip out at someone else’s 3-year-old throwing a tantrum, because I’m above that. I’m more mature.  Shake your head at the antics of others and realize it’s a good thing that you are disengaging (at least emotionally) from rude, annoying, or bullying behavior. You are above that. Shake your head with a rueful chuckle and walk away with grace.

In the end, you may not get what you want, but you have every right to kindly and firmly ask for it. And every right to walk away if things get ugly.



If you need more help with boundaries or dealing with difficult relationships, I recommend (links are affiliate):

Boundaries (and other more specific books from these authors like Boundaries for Marriage)

Where to Draw the Line

Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist: How to End the Drama and Get On with Life

Do you have any helpful suggestions or books to recommend? Please share!