Yom Tov [the 'holiday' season] brings family reunions, and along with family reunions can come strife of all kinds, including religious strife. What shul rabbi or yeshiva rebbe hasn't heard these questions:
"My parents' succah isn't really kosher. How can I get them to change it?"
"Our son came home from college for Yom Tov, but he doesn't want to go to shul with us; he'd prefer to lie in bed all morning. What are we supposed to do with him?"
"My family doesn't understand that a Yom Tov meal should be all about Torah. How am I supposed to maintain my intensity around them?"
The problem is complex, of course; it combines personality, stress, insecurity and history with the personal and deep nature of religious conviction, and the resulting clashes can be disastrous.
The best overarching advice I've heard is really just common sense; I wouldn't post it at all, except that sometimes we benefit even from the obvious:
1. Ask: Are you obligated to say anything?
Does the issue affect your own observance, or only theirs?
Do you think the obligation of 'tochachah' [educating others] requires you to speak up? Have you clarified that with a halachic authority?
2. Do your homework
If you are about to ask someone to change his time-honored tradition ("You must stop using horseradish for marror!"), make sure you know what you're talking about.
Prepare the source material, so you can explain the issue well.
And give plenty of notice in advance of the situation.
3. Always tell the truth... although not necessarily all of it
Using mis-direction in explaining yourself ("I don't feel like eating" in a kashrus situation) is a poor strategy, and quite likely to lead to disaster in the long term. Better to speak truthfully.
On the other hand, one doesn't need to say everything that's on his mind ("You will burn in Gehennom for skipping Shalom Aleichem on Friday night after a Yom Tov"); a gentle explanation of the problem, worded in a positive way, can go far.
4. Remember: People are fundamentally good
For the most part, when parents welcome home a child whose religious observance has changed, angst is present on both sides. The less stringent one wants the more stringent one to be comfortable. The more stringent one is nervous about imposing on the less stringent one.
Everyone means well, and no one is trying to make someone else look bad or feel bad – and keeping that in mind, and using it as a basis for approaching situations, can soften disagreements.
Disagree? Or do you have other tips?