'Tis the Season for Family Stress

Family issues come out strong during the holiday season.

Nov. 26, 2008 — -- Holiday season is a time to be with family, often whether you like it or not.

For thousands of Americans, going home to dysfunctional families is the norm, as is the stress that nearly always comes with the visit.

Sisters Kiki L'Italien and Kylee Koffman know the feeling. They told "Good Morning America" that their family is definitely a source of stress, especially during the holidays.

"Getting everyone under one roof is always a struggle, and we always find ourselves huddling in one corner hoping we can survive the next few minutes," Kiki joked.

They said that their brother is introverted and "spends the entire time locked away watching NASCAR and doesn't come out except for mashed potatoes."

Their shopping-obsessed mother, Margaret Beard, has them make out itineraries before each trip, and they know what will happen if they do not stick to it.

"She ends up calling me selfish and storming into the next room and pretty much not talking to anybody for a couple of hours," Kylee said.

The sisters also dread game night, because their stepfather, Bill Beard, tends to get a little too into the game.

"If he's not winning, he figures someone didn't explain something right or they're cheating," Kiki said.

"It's not that I think they're cheating," Bill countered. "I'm just a very competitive person. I like to win. I have, from time to time, thought someone was cheating and maybe accused them of that, but by the time it's all said and done, we're back together. It doesn't last very long."

According to psychotherapist David Sternberg, some people make their holiday stress worse than necessary by expecting too much.

"People tend to want to have these breakthrough moments, and they think that by going home they're going to bond with family members they haven't been close to for a long time," Sternberg said. "Then they set themselves up for disappointment."

For the Beard family, it is not disappointment they feel when confronted with their quirky family but closeness.

"Family is the most important thing," Margaret said. "There isn't anything that we shouldn't be able to get through. When we all get together, it just seems like it's absolutely magic. I love it."

Kiki agreed.

"Maybe you need to have that kind of conflict in order to realize how important the family really is," she said.