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How to prepare for complex family dynamics and divisive issues at holiday gatherings

Alexandra Bowman for NPR

With many seasonal holidays approaching, people are preparing potluck dishes and festive playlists for get-togethers of all sorts. Many are also getting ready to navigate complex, and often fraught, family dynamics.

Dr. Marva Robinson on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023, at St. Louis Public Radio’s headquarters in Grand Center.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Dr. Marva Robinson on Thursday at St. Louis Public Radio’s headquarters in Grand Center.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Dr. Marva Robinson, a clinical psychologist, shared practical tips for navigating complicated family relationships.

“Focus on compassionate empathy versus one side being right or the other,” Robinson suggested.

She also offered guidance to help people manage physical and psychological space, especially around war and politics — two topics with potential to be divisive.

“I generally recommend, for Thanksgiving and large gatherings, to not have the news playing in the background because that can be triggering. You can't control for which images may pop up or who may want to tune into a different news station.”

To hear more advice from Dr. Marva Robinson, listen to St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify or Google Podcast, or by clicking the play button below.

Dr. Marva Robinson joins 'St. Louis on the Air'

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Ulaa Kuziez is our production intern. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.