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- Family Life
How to Solve Your Family Problems
Last Updated: February 24, 2023 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Jin S. Kim, MA . Jin Kim is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based out of Los Angeles, California. Jin specializes in working with LGBTQ individuals, people of color, and those that may have challenges related to reconciling multiple and intersectional identities. Jin received his Masters in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles, with a specialization in LGBT-Affirming Psychology, in 2015. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 16 testimonials and 90% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 391,101 times.
Most of us have been there: Families can be very difficult, and family problems are very painful. However, there are ways to solve family problems and restore peace to the dynamic. Life is too short to waste time bogged down with negativity towards the people you love. How you approach the family member and what you say can make a big difference.
Beginning the Discussion
- Don't discuss the family problem when you're still feeling upset or emotional. If you wait even a single night, the intensity of the emotion is likely to subside somewhat, even if you're still unhappy.
- Waiting allows you to approach the issue logically, rather than emotionally. If you take a step back and give yourself some time to think before dealing with the issue, you won’t deal with it so reactively.
- Approaching someone when you are angry will heighten the intensity around an already tough situation. There's no reason you can't wait to make your point tomorrow, so control your instant impulse.
- That's because tone can too easily be misperceived by electronic communication. You might not think you sound angry, but you might sound angry by text to the person receiving it.
- Instead of sending off a text, pick up the telephone or, better yet, arrange an in-person meeting. Electronic communication means people lose the touchstones of body language, which can convey empathy and reduce the sting of a painful conversation.
- People say things by electronic communication that they would never say to another person's face, which is another reason to avoid it.
- Understanding that family members have faults, but you can still love them, is the first step toward addressing longstanding problems. Try to understand why they might act or think the way they do, as it can be a reflection of themselves rather than you.
- Accept your own faults, too. Accept blame when you deserve it. Try not to see family issues as all or nothing equations where someone is wrong and someone else (perhaps you) is right. Instead, try to perceive the gray areas. Nuances are exciting!
- It can do wonders to be the first person to apologize even if you really, truly, don’t think you did anything wrong. Say something like, “I can see you’re upset, and although this has been hard for me too, I am sorry. I really want to fix this, so let me know how I can do that.” That way if the family member continues the feud, at least you can say you took the high road.
- That means avoiding judgment words or name calling of the family member. It means avoiding accusatory words that are said in an angry tone. Blaming other people will make them defensive and prone to counter attacking, which will make the argument worse.
- Avoid the need to “win” the argument about the family problem. Instead, try to accept that there are two, or more, ways to see the point. Develop a plan for solving the problem together. Then, focus on organizing activities where you can have fun together, avoiding anything that could serve as a “trigger,” reigniting the problem. Explore new sides of your family members and new ways of relating to them.
- Keep your tone and voice calm and modulated, not raised and upset. Calmly and methodically explain your points, but with empathy for the other person. Always try to put yourself in the family member’s shoes. Make attempts to cool down the argument by throwing out conciliatory comments, like, “I see your point.”
- However, ultimately forgiveness is about freeing yourself from the corrosive nature of the dispute. Forgiving the family member is about letting go of the past so you can build a healthier future that is free of tension and stress.
- Tell the family member you forgive him or her if the family member has readily admitted blame for whatever is causing the problem. Say this with empathy. It will go a long way.
- Remember that every human being is imperfect and needing of forgiveness at one time or another on life’s journey. That’s including you, probably, at some point.
Getting at the Root of the Problem
- You may need to engage in some self-analysis here. Why am I hiding my issue from my family? Why am I so upset at this family issue? For example, perhaps you are struggling with financial concerns over how your mother is spending her money. You may then realize that you are concerned because you do not want her to end up with no way to support herself financially, as you do not have the means to provide for her.
- Don’t assume what other people are thinking. You need to talk to them to find out what they are really thinking. Avoid gossiping about other people in the family as this will probably get back to them and make it worse. Focus on causes, not symptoms.  X Research source
- However, a trusted family member, such as a parent or another sibling, might be able to help you figure out what is really going on, so it’s OK to talk to them in a way that is heartfelt and designed to solve or address the issue.
- In contrast, asking questions softens the conversation and can draw out what's really bothering the person. Questions make the family member feel like he or she is not being condemned. Ask the other family member his or her ideas for making the situation better.
- For example, let's say that your sister has been really distant from you lately and not inviting you out for coffee like she used to. You could say, "I've noticed that we haven't seen each as much as we used to. Why do you think that is?" Or, you may try to address your mother's spending habits by saying, "I've noticed that you have been spending more money on clothing lately. Are you being responsible with money?"
- Make sure the questions are open-ended so that they provoke the other person to elaborate. Then, truly listen to what the family member has to say.
- Perhaps an older, wiser family member can be asked to intervene and set up a meeting or talk to the other family member first, acting as sort of a mediator. In order to open the line of communication, you will have to set aside your pride. Remember it takes a big person to be the first person to tackle the problem.  X Research source
- Ignoring the problem while it festers will probably only make it worse in the long run as the coldness grows between you. It’s better to express how you feel, but choose the right time and way to do so. For example, it may be a bad idea to bring up a family problem at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
- Avoid drinking before having a tough family conversation. Alcohol can fuel emotions in a lot of people, even when used in moderation, and that’s usually not the best thing when trying to have a difficult family conversation.
Jin S. Kim, MA
Communicating with others doesn't have to be done face-to-face. If you're struggling to communicate with a family member, you could write a note or letter and leave it for them to find, or you could send a text message to discuss an issue and ask about talking later.
- Some family problems can be caused by differences of opinion, such as differing cultural values or beliefs. Parents and children may end up not able to agree on lifestyle choices and personal preferences or beliefs.
- Other family problems stem from substance abuse, mental health problems, bullying, lack of trust, change in family circumstances, financial issues, stress, sexuality-related issues, and jealousy.
Addressing the Family Problem
- The first step is trying to figure out whether the problem is solvable. That depends on the nature of the problem, and what’s already been done to solve it. If you’ve tried and tried and keep getting the same result, that may be different.
- But consider what points of common ground you have with the other person, and what points you would be willing to give in on. If you don’t give in on anything, you’re less likely to make headway in the dispute.
- One technique to develop compromise is for both people in the dispute to sit down and draw two circles that relate to the family problem. In the first circle, write down everything you’re not willing to compromise on. In the outer circle, write down the areas where you are willing to bend. Then, share the circles.
- Instead of broaching painful family problems at holiday gatherings or a big family dinner, try to figure out who the conflict is really between. If it's between you and one other family member, the rest of the family may feel very uncomfortable being dragged into it, because no one likes to be forced to take a side.
- Instead, ask the family member in question to meet you for lunch or coffee. Talking one-on-one in a neutral space can be a much better way to redress whatever grievances you have or they might have. People will say things individually that they would hesitate to say in a group.
- Don’t try talking to the family member when you’re distracted, working on a big work project, fielding a bunch of phone calls, doing the dishes, or the like. Instead, put everything down to focus on the issue and them.
- For example, perhaps the family problem involves a job loss, disability, or money problems. Calling the family together to come up with ideas to solve the problem helps everyone feel like they are doing something useful.
- Use the family council as the foundation to develop a strategy to move the family forward in a positive manner. More minds are usually better at tackling a problem than one is.
- Make sure one family member doesn’t dominate the discussion, and explain that anger or name calling should be checked at the door.
- Handwriting is good because it's more personal. It shows that you put care and thought behind the letter, and it seems warmer. That will make the other family members realize that you are trying.
- Some people communicate better in writing but veil their thoughts and emotions more in person or on the phone. If you are one of those people, a letter might be the way to go.
- In the letter, you should explain how you feel and why you want to address the family issue. Use the word "I" more than the word "you" in the letter so you are stating your perspective and not blaming or speaking for anyone else. Explain how the problem is affecting you, but also explain how you would like the problem to be resolved and why.
- Place the problem in front of the child. Explain the problem very clearly. You might say something like, "We have noticed that you don’t get out of bed easily, making you late for school a lot. This is a problem that we need to solve."
- Don’t act angry. Instead, ask the child for help solving the problem. Suggest that the child come up with a plan to solve the issue with your help.
- Give the child positive reinforcement if the child makes progress toward solving the problem. Try to dig out the real reasons for the problem. Is the child hard to wake up because the child is on social media too late, for example?
- Don’t play favorites with children. Let the child know you love the child and that you want to solve the problem because you care about the child and want things to be better.
Letting Go of Family Problems
- The question to ask yourself is whether the family member has brought negatives into your life, draining you emotionally, stealing from you financially, undermining you, or any number of bad behaviors.
- You have a right to draw boundaries to protect yourself. For example, perhaps you still see the negative family member at family events, and you treat them with respect when you do. However, perhaps you have decided to never visit with them one-on-one or lend them money. This is within your right to do.
- Explain the boundaries to the family member in a warm and loving manner. However, be firm. Perhaps you can't stay over at a family member's house because fights always occur when you visit, so you will stay at a nearby hotel instead.
- Some family problems, like grief over a loved one or a parents inability to accept you for who you are, may not have solutions. Instead, you may need to accept that you have tried your best to communicate and connect with your family, to no avail. You may then need to move on from the issue and try to live your life the best you can.
- Although such situations are intensely personal, generally you should consider cutting the family member out of your life if the family problem involves abuse, either physical or sexual. Abuse should not be tolerated, of yourself or others. Abuse situations should be reported to the police or child protective services.  X Research source
- Serious substance abuse issues that continue to impact your life could be another reason. You can try to get a person help, but if they continue to refuse, you might have to cut them out for your own peace of mind.
- If the family member in question will not go to counseling, perhaps you could go on your own. A professional therapist can help you figure out how to deal with the family member and how to heal the rift. Reading books on relationships also can help some people, as can joining a support group.  X Research source
- If the family problem is rooted in issues like mental illness or substance abuse by you or another family member, a professional may be the only way for the family to start to heal. Some problems may be too complex for you to solve on your own.
- A counselor can help by simply being a neutral, objective ear on the problem. The professional might offer suggestions that you didn't think of or perceive aspects of the conflict that you wouldn't because you are too close to it.
You might also like.
- ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pride-and-joy/201205/solving-common-family-problems-five-essential-steps
- ↑ http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/7-relationship-problems-how-solve-them
- ↑ http://inspiyr.com/solve-family-problems/
- ↑ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kenneth-barish-phd/how-to-solve-common-famil_b_3366853.html
- ↑ http://www.ilanelanzen.com/familyandparenting/how-to-solve-family-problems-that-could-devastate-a-family/
- ↑ http://theadventurouswriter.com/blog/how-to-solve-family-problems-solutions-toxic-relatives/
About This Article
The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always contact your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before starting, changing, or stopping any kind of health treatment.
If you want to solve your family problems, pick a time to discuss the issue in person when you aren't angry or upset. At the beginning of the conversation, remember to accept everyone's faults and imperfections, including your own, and talk about how you're feeling, rather than blaming others. Be open to forgiving someone who has wronged or hurt you. Throughout the discussion, be honest about what's going on, and ask questions to try to come to a mutual solution to the problem. For advice on addressing tough problems and learning how to let go, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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- Conflict can happen when family members have different views or beliefs that clash.
- Peaceful resolution depends on negotiation and respect for the other person’s point of view.
- Seek professional advice if you think you need help.
On this page
Common causes of family conflict, agreeing to negotiate, try to listen, work as a team, professional advice, where to get help, things to remember.
Conflict can happen when family members have different views or beliefs that clash. Sometimes conflict can occur when people misunderstand each other and jump to the wrong conclusion. Issues of conflict that are not resolved peacefully can lead to arguments and resentment. It is normal to disagree with each other from time to time. Occasional conflict is part of family life. However, ongoing conflict can be stressful and damaging to relationships. Some people find it difficult to manage their feelings and become intentionally hurtful, aggressive or even violent. Communicating in a positive way can help reduce conflict so that family members can reach a peaceful resolution. This usually means that everyone agrees to a compromise or agrees to disagree. Sometimes, strong emotions or the power imbalances that can be present in relationships are difficult to resolve and can only be addressed in a counselling situation.
It is well recognised that some of the stages a family goes through can cause conflict. These may include:
- Learning to live as a new couple
- Birth of a baby
- Birth of other children
- A child going to school
- A child becoming a young person
- A young person becoming an adult.
Each of these stages can create new and different stresses and potential conflict. Changes in the family situation can also take a toll on the family and contribute to conflict. This may include events such as:
- Separation or divorce
- Moving to a new house or country
- Travelling long distances to work
- Commuting interstate for work.
- Change in financial circumstances.
The opinions, values and needs of each parent can also change and they may find they are no longer compatible.
Usually, our first angry impulse is to push the point that we are right and win the argument at any cost. Finding a peaceful resolution can be difficult, if not impossible, when both parties stubbornly stick to their guns. It helps if everyone decides as a family to try listening to each other and negotiating instead. Suggestions include:
- Work out if the issue is worth fighting over.
- Try to separate the problem from the person.
- Try to cool off first if you feel too angry to talk calmly.
- Keep in mind that the idea is to resolve the conflict, not win the argument.
- Remember that the other party isn’t obliged to always agree with you on everything.
- Define the problem and stick to the topic.
- Respect the other person’s point of view by paying attention and listening.
- Talk clearly and reasonably.
- Try to find points of common ground.
- Agree to disagree.
Conflict can escalate when the people involved are too angry to listen to each other. Misunderstandings fuel arguments. Suggestions include:
- Try to stay calm.
- Try to put emotions aside.
- Don’t interrupt the other person while they are speaking.
- Actively listen to what they are saying and what they mean.
- Check that you understand them by asking questions.
- Communicate your side of the story clearly and honestly.
- Resist the urge to bring up other unresolved but unrelated issues.
Once both parties understand the views and feelings of the other, you can work out a solution together. Suggestions include:
- Come up with as many possible solutions as you can.
- Be willing to compromise.
- Make sure everyone clearly understands the chosen solution.
- Once the solution is decided on, stick to it.
- Write it down as a ‘contract’, if necessary.
There are services available to help family members work through difficult issues of conflict. Seek professional advice if you think you need some assistance.
- Your doctor
- Parentline Tel. 13 22 89
- Family Relationship Advice Line Tel. 1800 050 321 Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm, Saturday, 10am to 4pm www.familyrelationships.gov.au
- Other parents
- Family counsellor
- Conflict and negotiation, Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service, Department for Community Development, South Australian Government.
- Relationships with parents, Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service, Department for Community Development, South Australian Government.
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Information about medication abortion (also known as medical abortion or the 'abortion pill') - includes how medication works, appointments, what to expect, side effects, possible risks, self-care.
Services include parent education to maternal and child healthcare, child care, crisis support, child protection, family violence and relationship services
Adoption can give a secure family life to children who can?t live with their birth family.
Alcohol is responsible for most drug-related deaths in the teenage population.
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- Child Support Agency.
- Raising Children Network.
Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. The State of Victoria and the Department of Health shall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website.
All families deal with relationship difficulties, small or large, at various times throughout the family experience. Family problems come in all shapes and sizes, impacting family dynamics and shaping family relationships. The ways that family members cope with and solve issues provide a framework for family dynamics and set the tone for family life.
How to Solve Family Problems
- Create an Environment of Sharing
- Acknowledge the Problem
- Get to the Deeper Issue
- Focus on the Relationship – Let Go of Anger and Pride
- Get Professional Help
Remember to Take Care of Yourself
Creating a family culture of openness and security, and taking the steps to resolve family issues, can improve relationships and maintain positive family dynamics.
Common Family Problems
Families face a variety of problems, both large and small. Family conflict and relationship problems can include arguments, miscommunication, and misunderstanding. They also can involve deeper issues such as substance abuse, financial instability, mental illness, grief, health problems, and divorce. Sometimes, these issues exist between only two family members, and other times they spread throughout the entire family, creating extended family issues . Some issues, like grief after the loss of a loved one, appear plainly on the surface, while others can be more subtle. Perhaps your child refuses to communicate with you, or your wife doesn’t seem to be a happily married woman .
Family issues often have underlying causes which are not always apparent.. And yet the impact of these root causes can spread throughout the family, creates conflict or emotional strain in several family relationships. Such conflict is especially impactful on a child’s life, creating emotional difficulties that are often carried from their childhood and adolescence into their adult lives and future family relationships.
Create an Environment of Sharing
Families are built on relationships, and relationships are strengthened through healthy communication. An environment of sharing creates the foundation for healthy communication. Family members need to feel safe to share their feelings and discuss their issues and emotions. As a family oriented parent , that means allowing your child to share their point of view without fear of judgment or punishment. Sometimes, a child just needs to feel certain that what they say will be taken seriously. A child who feels safe can talk about difficult or emotional subjects, such as mental health, self-identity, anxiety, or substance abuse. Children who feel safe and respected are much more likely to open up to a parent when struggling with a situation or trying to make a difficult decision. This is also true for other family relationships—not just between parent and child, but between siblings and within the marriage.
Ways to achieve an environment of sharing include:
- Listen. Really listen to the other person before providing advice or counsel. Sometimes, it is better to first ask if advice is welcome. If the answer is no, let it go and follow up later.
- Be willing to share your own feelings. Sometimes things seem obvious to us, but they may not be obvious to your child, spouse, or sibling. Sharing your own feelings without placing blame can bring up new points of view.
- Speak for yourself and avoid blame. When sharing your perspective, present it as just that - your perspective and not the facts.
- Recognize others’ experiences as valid. Telling others how they feel or should feel creates barriers and discourages sharing.
- Be human. Admitting you are wrong, or that you made a mistake, can help others feel more comfortable to admit their own mistakes.
- Model the behavior you want to see. We are all influenced by the people who surround us. Modeling healthy ways to express thoughts and emotions encourages others to do the same.
- Do things together. Families that spend time together engaged in positive activities achieve a sense of closeness that encourages open communication and sharing. Explore shared interests, sports, or service ideas for families . Activities that involve serving others and getting outside are especially fulfilling and often instigate future conversations and closer relationships.
Sharing openly among family members sets the stage for solving family problems and preventing future issues from arising.
Acknowledge the Family Problem
Sometimes family problems stem from something simple like a lack of closeness. Other times the problems involve something much more serious, like abuse. Acknowledging that a problem exists is the first step in doing something to fix the situation. Ignoring issues and pretending everything is fine are common unhealthy coping mechanisms for family members experiencing relationship conflict or emotionally difficult situations.
Lack of acknowledgment can exacerbate issues, fuel negative situations, and culminate in negative or damaging behavior, such as lashing out in anger, aggressive argument, substance abuse, or family violence. Acknowledging a problem as early as possible allows positive action to be taken toward fixing the situation, and may prevent unhealthy coping mechanisms that lead to negative situations.
Sometimes we avoid discussing problems because our past efforts to do so only seemed to make things worse. As a result, we believe that avoiding is better than continuing to fight. In truth, avoiding instead of fighting just leads to other side effects in families. Feeling stuck is often a sign that involving a third party is needed, such as a good marriage and family therapist.
Get to the Deeper Family Issue
After acknowledging that a problem exists, steps can be taken to identify the source of the problem and improve the situation. Most family problems are merely symptoms on the surface of a deeper-rooted cause. Knowing the cause paves the way for greater empathy among family members and illuminates situations that require change. Here are some examples of family problems and their deeper issues:
Conflict between siblings – The majority of families will experience some sibling conflict between children at various times. But if that conflict extends beyond the occasional bickering to consistent emotional arguing or angry or hurtful behavior, then a deeper issue is likely the cause. That deeper issue could involve jealousy or feelings of inadequacy, where one child feels overshadowed by the other. One child could be putting pressure on the other to keep a secret from their parents (such as breaking a rule or lying). The cause could also be external, affecting one child who in turn uses their sibling as a dump truck for unloading their stress, frustration, or anger.
Alcohol abuse or other substance abuse – Family members who abuse alcohol or other substances are often using the activity as an escape mechanism. They could be escaping from a difficult emotional situation, such as grief over the loss of a loved one, financial instability, marriage conflict, or divorce. Or, they could be escaping from physical pain from illness or other health problems. Professional help from a therapist or support group can help to break down the deeper issues that lead people to substance abuse and start them on the road to recovery.
Stress and anxiety in children – These are common effects of a variety of deeper issues. Often, anxiety is triggered by an event or a difficult situation. The stress that stems from it leads to further anxiety, creating a cyclical pattern. The root of the anxiety could be a social issue at school or concern for a friend. It could relate to feeling overwhelmed in school or struggling with an undiagnosed learning disorder. Children often perceive more than they let on and could be reacting to a passing comment from a parent, such as “Our budget is tight this month.” Talking with your child and maintaining trust through open communication encourages children to reveal the source of their anxiety.
Sometimes, identifying the deeper issue and bringing it out in the open is all it takes to resolve a problem. Other times, merely identifying the root cause is just the beginning of the long road to resolution. This important and necessary step will help to develop a plan for resolving issues and encourage understanding within family relationships.
Focus on the Family Relationship – Let Go of Anger and Pride
Anger and pride are the enemies of healthy family relationships. They feed negative emotions, hamper empathy and understanding, and thwart positive and open communication. Holding on to these feelings blocks the path to conflict resolution. Anger and pride are divisive to family relationships and damaging to individual mental health. They are fuel for the cyclical patterns of stress, anxiety, and depression. Despite knowing this, however, letting go of such emotions can be difficult – and sometimes painful. The fear of pain, vulnerability, or failure are often what keeps a person from improving their family relationships and focusing on the importance of family .
One of the best ways to move beyond that fear is to focus on the relationship. Prioritize the goal—a healthier, happier relationship—over the fear of being hurt or the fear of failure. When family problems exist, a person has usually been hurt already, which makes the fear of being hurt again even greater. But while that risk of further hurt is real, the potential for healing and resolution is also real. Focusing on that potential, and letting go of those negative emotions, opens the door to healthier communication, relationship healing, and better mental health.
Get Professional Family Help
Getting professional help is one of the best ways to handle family problems. Some situations, such as those involving abuse, dangerous behavior, or domestic violence, require immediate professional help and formal family assessment . In other situations, such as ongoing disagreements over a certain topic or lack of closeness within a marriage, brief therapy help can provide the catalyst you need to get unstuck and achieve the fulfilling relationship that you each desire.
Many people hold back from seeking professional help because of fears or misunderstandings. Here are some facts about therapy that help to debunk some of these common myths and misconceptions:
Therapy is for everyone - A common misconception about therapy is that it is reserved for people with mental illness, individuals with an emotional disorder, or people who are too weak to handle their own problems. This could not be further from the truth. As humans, we need other humans to work through issues with us. Therapy provides a safe, confidential environment to do just that.
Professional help is available for all types of issues, whether large or small, and in a variety of formats. Family therapy, marriage counseling, support groups, and individual sessions with a therapist are just a few examples. There is also a variety of specialties, including psychology, psychiatry, religious counseling, and much more. At the end of the day, therapy is merely a safe space to work through your family problems with the support of a trained professional.
Therapy is worth your time - Another common misconception is that therapy is a waste of time or money. You could talk to anyone, so why talk to a therapist? Therapists have special expertise gained through extensive professional training. They will not only help you talk about your family issues but will help you to develop strategies for resolving difficult situations. A family therapist can also discuss various types of issues you may be dealing with, and different options for resolution or treatment, such as new scientific approaches to treating a specific issues.
Therapy is safe - One myth about therapy is that there are risks. The risk of being judged (by the therapist or by friends and family) or the risk of being medicated. On the contrary, therapy provides a safe and confidential space to explore all options for healing. Often, professional counseling is all that is needed or desired for family conflict resolution.
Professional help can provide growth and healing for a parent, child, or an entire family, improving family dynamics and emotional health. It can provide mediation and conflict resolution within a marriage, between siblings, or any type of family relationship. Think about the type of support (such as family therapy, religious counseling, or psychiatry) that feels right for your family and seek it out.
It is true that the quality of the professional you work with can make a big difference in the outcome of your therapy. For this reason, it’s often best to seek a referral from a trusted friend or family member. If that feels uncomfortable, consider asking for a referral from your family doctor. If you’ve had a negative experience in the past, consider giving it another try, this time with a trusted referral.
Taking care of yourself and maintaining your mental health is essential when attempting to solve family issues. Maintaining positive, healthy family dynamics starts with a healthy self. Being in a healthy mental space allows you to let go of negative emotions. This, in turn, paves the way for safe and open communication between family members and helps the entire family focus on relationships.
Not only does this place you in the right frame of mind to address family conflict, but it models a healthy example for your children to do the same. It is integral to maintaining a strong family structure that provides a sense of stability and security for children. For a parent, maintaining your mental health can provide you with the strength and perspective needed to maintain the necessary qualities of a good father and mother, such as understanding and empathy.
Taking care of yourself is often easier said than done, especially while feelings of stress, anxiety, or emotional dissatisfaction prevail. Finding a healthy outlet to decompress and let go of stress and other negative emotions can help to maintain a healthy state of mind. Choose a regular time in your schedule just for maintaining you. This could include a daily exercise routine, a therapeutic hobby (such as gardening or journaling), or a weekly therapy session. Taking care of yourself leaves you open to model healthy behavior for your children and to focus on family relationships.
Impact of Family Problems
When not addressed, family problems can have serious impacts on individual family members. Issues such as increased levels of stress and anxiety, emotional difficulties and disorders (such as depression), substance abuse, and addiction, are all likely to surface. Sometimes, these impacts carry on throughout a child’s life. Family problems can especially impact children, who are often capable of perceiving much more than one might think. Children may also perceive a problem, but not be able to fully understand it. Such misunderstandings can lead to greater issues, further affecting family dynamics and individual emotions. Where family issues exist, acknowledge the problem, and take the steps to resolution.
Solving Family Problems
Families experience a wide range of issues, some small and some large. These issues typically involve strain or conflict within family relationships. They can have lasting impacts on individual family members, especially children. Taking steps to address family issues, and seeking resolution among family relationships can ease emotions, promote mental health, and maintain a positive family culture. A family culture quiz by Kinmundo is an easy way for families to evaluate and improve the culture within their family.
A positive family culture requires a structure built on family values that maintains a safe environment for sharing. Open communication in an environment safe from fears of judgment provides a model of stability and security for family members to acknowledge and address important issues with understanding and empathy. Creating such a culture is paramount to solving family issues when they arise.
A family that feels open and safe to share emotions, acknowledge issues, and seek help when needed can maintain positive relationships and mental health. When family members are prepared to resolve family conflict, they can reduce the lasting impacts of difficult situations and fix relationships that may seem broken.
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7 Most Common Family Problems And How to Solve Them
Family is life, they are everything we need when we’re in trouble or we just need support. Family is the one that has our back and the one we count on as we celebrate our success or mourn our losses.
Family laughs with us, cries with us, but is always ready to support us whenever we need it. This doesn’t mean that families don’t have problems.
Each family is unique and each family has its problems and issues. But some most common family problems plague each family alike. In this blog, I’ll explain the common problems of a family and what you can do to resolve them.
Let’s begin, shall we?
7 Most Common Family Problems And Solutions
Distance, whether of work or emotionally, can take a heavy toll on a family and put a strain on the family relationship. If you have kids, then distance – often for an extended period – can be challenging to bear through.
If you travel and cannot change the distance, then you can take steps such as nightly video chats, playing online games, or watch movies online together to help curb the distance.
Issues can also arise if you’re not keeping enough distance, too. Spending too much time with the family can also become a problem. Every relationship, even a happy and successful family , needs space, even if you’re a stay-at-home parent.
Solution: Get some space for yourself. Engage in a productive hobby or do something you love. Too much distance and/or not enough distance can put a strain on a family relationship.
2. Parenting Disagreements
Every parent has a different view when it comes to raising their child. For many, how they raise their children can come from their own childhood experiences and upbringing. If you and your partner disagree on parenting styles then it’s a good time to talk it out. Discuss the pros and cons and understand their views on your parenting style .
Solution: If you and your partner are having disagreements on each other’s parenting styles then you need to learn to compromise. It is better to raise your children keeping in mind both parents’ values.
Most disagreements, fights, and arguments are caused by poor communication or lack of communication. Adults and children all need space to explain their problems in all fairness. Making assumptions, even in the case of a family, is not the right thing to do.
A common problem with a blended family can be a lack of communication. Having a step-parent, step-sibling can be disconcerting at first, and openly communicating might be a problem in the beginning.
Solution: Many teenage children refuse or hesitate to express their emotions fearing ridicule or shame. Explain to the family that each of them is welcome to express their honest views. Encourage them to communicate openly and fairly. Even parents and grandparents are entitled to their views.
4. Arguments And Conflicts
As I mentioned in the previous point, disagreements, conflicts, and fights are a part of a family dynamic. We all are entitled to our opinion however, arguments and conflicts can damage relationships within a family if not resolved in time. Emotions should not get the better of you during arguments. We may say something hurtful even without meaning to.
Arguments are not a bad thing at all. They are normal but if they get out of hand then they could be a problem.
Solution: Instead of focusing on the words, focus on the why of the other person’s actions and behavior. If the disagreement is turning into a fight, call a time-out and come back to the point when you and the others have had time to cool down.
5. Money Problems
One of the biggest stressors in any relationship can be finances. Financial stress can raise tension and create dissonance in a family relationship. Arguments about money and money management are common family problems that need to be addressed.
Solution: However, there are many ways to deal with financial stress including creating a monthly budget. Cutting back on unnecessary expenses – on either side – can also help. Financial troubles test a relationship in ways not many things do. If you and your partner are open to solve the issues together, you can get through tough times together.
6. Rebellious Children
A common problem between parents and children comes when children become rebellious and refuse to listen to their parents.
From raising toddlers to teens, times can certainly be challenging. Rebellious children can test your patience and will push all your buttons. In such situations, remember that while you may not be able to control your children’s actions, you can control how to teach them the consequences of their actions.
Solution: Set a positive example of how you react to your emotions. If you are dealing with an angry teenager , then you can try listening to their grievances and discuss with them, offering them advice only if they ask you for it. One of the best ways your child can learn is by making mistakes.
Let them. As a team, you and your partner can offer them support and help when you see them flounder.
7. Work-Life Balance
Another common family problem can be not having a healthy work-life balance . With both sets of parents working more and more, it can create a certain problem when it comes to balancing work and life. The need to provide for the family and the want to spend time with them can cause an unhealthy work-life routine.
Solution: One of the best solutions to this common family problem is to leave work at work and focusing on family when off work. Make time for family when it comes to family time. If possible, delegate tasks at work so that you are not too overworked.
It is also important to remember to spend time on yourself as well. Also, with a better work-life balance , you’ll be able to focus better on work and family, at their respective times.
Tips To Solve Common Family Problems
Some additional tips to help you solve day-to-day common family problems are;
1. Try to spend time with family members. It’s OK when each family member has different activities and interests that can make it hard for others to find time to spend with one another, but try to schedule events and activities to try with each other.
2. It’s important to have open (and honest) communication between family members so that there is no misunderstanding. Encourage each other to share their thoughts and feelings and make sure that no one feels rejected or judged for expressing their feelings.
3. Each member of the family needs to feel represented, heard and validated. In a family, each member needs to have equal power in decision-making. Once a member realizes that they are losing their representation or is not feeling safe to express their concern, then it could create conflicts.
4. In every relationship (yes, family relationships too), there could be unresolved feelings between each other. Sort of a leftover from the last argument, conflict, or disagreement. These unresolved feelings can also hinder further growth within the family. Here, you need to make sure that all past disagreements are resolved with no hard feelings left between the members.
5. The biggest mistake we do is not giving each other space in the family. And I’m not talking about privacy for once. It’s good to be together, but it’s also good to spend some time apart from each other. When you’re constantly in the presence of each other, it increases the risk of lashing out unnecessarily. All the pent-up negative feelings might be taken out on each other if there’s no space granted.
How Family Therapy Can Help?
Many studies over the years have explored the importance of counseling and therapy when it comes to improving family relationships . Family and couples counseling help in understanding each other, resolve conflicts easily and come up with effective solutions.
With more and more therapy platforms going online, you can find the perfect family therapist for you and your family from the comfort of your own home. Even when dealing with separated and divorced parents, online therapy can be helpful.
Book Your First Therapy Session
All families go through turbulent times and the above common family problems can plague all families – divorced, separated, or blended families. But this doesn’t mean that there is no solution to help resolve family problems.
Understanding what causes the problems to arise in the first place, the different kinds of family problems, and how you can control them before they get out of control can help you prevent family conflicts and disagreements in the future.
I hope with the above-mentioned common family problems and solutions, you can improve your family relationships and learn how to prevent these common family problems from turning destructive and ruining family relationships from within.
For more, you can write to us at [email protected] or DM us on social media. You can also comment with your thoughts and any tips you have when it comes to resolving family problems below.
Remember to always be kind to each other.
12 Effective & Mindful Ways To Navigate Difficult Family Relationships
What Is Family Counseling And Reasons Why You May Need Family Counseling
What Is Family Stress Theory & Why Is It important?
About The Author
Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.
it's good ideas , and lovely
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Why problem-solving is important
As parents, the way you manage problems or disagreements in your relationship affects your children.
By managing problems positively and constructively, you help your children develop well and thrive. When children see you behaving and communicating with your partner in this way, children learn to behave this way too. It can teach them important skills for life.
When you and your partner find solutions together, you help the whole family have happier, healthier and stronger relationships. And you help to protect your children from the downsides of conflict.
This is because a problem-solving approach can help you and your partner to:
- confront issues, rather than avoiding them
- talk and listen respectfully and patiently
- find solutions that you’re both happy with
- feel like you’re working as a team.
Ground rules for problem-solving
Before you start problem-solving, it’s a good idea to set some ground rules. It’s also important for you and your partner to come up with these rules together.
Here are suggestions for problem-solving ground rules to get you started:
- Either person can raise a problem for discussion at any time.
- Either person can say ‘no’ if they don’t want to talk about it right then, but agree to make another time soon to discuss it – no more than 1-2 days after it first comes up.
- If the discussion gets heated, either person can call for a ‘break’ to calm down.
- Raise problems at a good time and place. For example, do it when the children aren’t around, when there’s enough time to discuss the issue, when there are no other competing demands like making dinner, and when you’re both calm.
- Try to actively listen so you both understand what the other person is saying.
- Agree that you won’t raise conflict topics or show disrespect in front of other people and your children.
- Keep in mind that if one of you has a problem, it’s likely to affect both of you.
Problem-solving: how to do it
Positive problem-solving has six basic steps:
- Define the problem.
- Clarify what you each want.
- Brainstorm solutions.
- Evaluate solutions and choose one.
- Try the solution.
- Review the solution.
1. Define the problem
Be clear and specific about the problem:
- Describe what’s happening, how often it’s happening, and who’s involved. For example, ‘In the past three weeks, I’ve noticed we’ve argued a lot more than usual’.
- Focus on the issue, not the person. For example, ‘We’re always doing chores or taking the children to sport, and we haven’t been able to relax together. I think it’s affecting our relationship’.
- Acknowledge your role or contribution to the problem. For example, ‘I know I started a few of those arguments’.
- Describe the problem with a neutral, non-blaming approach. You could try phrasing the issue as a question. For example, ‘I’m worried that we haven’t had time for each other lately. Can we talk about how we can spend some time together?’
2. Clarify what you each want
Be clear about what’s important to each of you. Asking questions can help you clarify things. For example:
- Why is that so important?
- Why do you want/need that?
- Why are you concerned/worried/afraid about that?
- Why don’t you want/need that?
- What would be so awful about that?
Your goal is to have a clear understanding of what you both want. Be patient and focus on listening to each other’s answers.
3. Brainstorm solutions
Write down any and all possible solutions:
- Take turns to suggest ideas.
- Try to get as many ideas as you can, even if some don’t seem relevant. Aim for at least 8-10 ideas.
- Include all ideas. Rejecting ideas can hurt each other’s feelings and stop you from sharing your ideas.
- Wait until you’ve got all your ideas down before you talk about them.
4. Evaluate solutions and choose one
Narrow down your brainstorming list to one practical option that can solve your problem:
- Cross off ideas you both agree won’t work.
- If one of you thinks an idea might work, leave it on the list.
- List the advantages and disadvantages for each idea you have left on the list. Look at the advantages first – try to find something positive about every idea.
- Keep discussions brief so you have enough time to discuss all ideas left on the list.
- Cross off any ideas that clearly have more disadvantages than advantages.
- Rate the remaining options from 1 (not very good) to 10 (very good).
- Choose a solution that you and your partner agree to try – it might not be your preferred solution but it should be one that you’re comfortable with.
If you can’t find a solution , repeat the brainstorming step and try to come up with different ideas.
If you need some new ideas, you could ask trusted friends or family. But first check with your partner if they’re OK with this. Your partner might prefer to keep some of your problems private.
If this still doesn’t work , you could both agree to trying your choice of solution this time and your partner’s choice next time.
5. Try the solution
Make a commitment to the solution by agreeing on the following:
- Who will do what, when and where?
- What will happen if we don’t do the things we’ve agreed on?
- Do we need to keep track of how well our solution is working?
- When will we review how the solution is going?
If your solution is related to your children, consider getting them involved in trying the solution, if it’s appropriate.
6. Review the solution
After a set time, look at your solution and talk about how it’s going. You could ask questions like:
- Is the solution working?
- What has worked well? What hasn’t worked?
- What could we do to make things work more smoothly?
If the solution is working, you’ll both notice that the problem is going away. If it isn’t, ask yourselves these questions:
- Was the solution reasonable?
- Did we both give and take?
- Were rules and responsibilities clear to both of us?
- Were consequences for breaking the agreement used, and were they appropriate?
- Have other issues come up that we need to talk about before our solution will work?
You might find that you need to start the problem-solving process again to find a better solution.
It’s natural to have some ups and downs along the way – set a realistic time frame to try the solution.
And remember to encourage and support each other as you try to solve the problem. For example, ‘I’m glad we’re trying to work on this together’ or ‘It helps when we talk things through. Thanks’.
Your goal is to do things differently and work on compromise. With patience, effort and support for each other, you can find a way to solve your relationship problems.
Getting help with problems in your relationship
If working on problems makes you or your partner very upset or angry, it might help to speak to a relationship counsellor. Relationship counsellors can help you identify what’s causing conflict between you and help you come up with practical solutions. You could try the following options:
- Call Relationships Australia in your state or territory on 1300 364 277 .
- Call Family Relationships Online on 1800 050 321 .
- See your GP to talk things through and get a referral to a psychologist or relationship or family counselling service.
- Find a psychologist or counselling service through the Australian Psychology Society , Australian Counselling Association or Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia .
It’s good if you and your partner can see a counsellor together. But if your partner doesn’t want to go, it’s still worth seeking help by yourself.
Family violence is not OK. If you’re in a relationship that involves family violence, call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
Solving Common Family Problems: Five Essential Steps
Engaging children in the solution of problems..
Posted May 28, 2012
In every family, there will be problems. No matter how positive and empathic we have been, kids will still argue and misbehave, and ask for more than they can have. The demands of our daily lives—and of theirs—will inevitably create conflict and misunderstanding.
Often, there is a recurring problem. The problem may be getting ready for school in the morning or going to sleep at night. Or doing homework, or fighting with siblings. Children may be demanding or disrespectful, or refuse to cooperate when asked. Over time, these common problems of daily living begin to erode the quality of our relationships with our children - and our own pleasure in being parents.
So often, families get stuck. Despite our best intentions, children become stubborn and defensive—and so do we. In today’s post, I will outline five essential principles that we should keep in mind in attempting to solve any challenging problem of family life.
Step 1: Take a Step Back
The first step in solving any recurring problem in the life of a child is to take a step back. Problems of family life are best solved - and perhaps can only be solved—proactively. When we are reacting to our children’s behavior, we will often be reacting badly. Clinicians and parent advisors of all points of view agree on this point.
Children want to solve problems, and they want to do well. Like us, however, they may become frustrated and even feel hopeless that solutions are possible. And, like us, they may just not know what to do.
Look for causes, not just symptoms. You will solve problems more successfully when you have been able to identify the daily experiences in the life of your child that are sources of painful feelings. These may be frustration in learning, or frequent criticism, or bullying , or exclusion.
Then, listen to your child’s grievance. Let him tell you what he believes is unfair in his life. Tell him what is right about what he is saying before you tell him what is wrong. You can say, for example, “I know you feel that we are always on your case about your schoolwork, and maybe we are. But we’re worried and we need to solve this problem.”
Step 2: Place the Problem Before Your Child
Once you have identified a recurrent problematic situation and made some effort to understand its causes, the next step is to place the problem before your child. Say, for example, “We have a problem in the morning, when it’s time to get ready, and I often end up yelling at you,” or “I think we have a shower problem,” or “A lot of times, we have a problem when I tell you that it is time to turn off the television.”
Step 3: Elicit Your Child’s Ideas
It seems almost reflexive for many parents, when faced with a child’s defiance or lack of cooperation, to attempt to solve this problem by imposing a “consequence” for their child’s misbehavior. Although some problems may require this approach, I recommend that you first engage your child in an effort to solve the problem—to elicit her ideas.
In this way, you will often be able to engage her in a search for solutions. She will then be less absorbed in angry and defiant thoughts, less stuck in making demands or continuing the argument. She will begin to think, even if just for that moment, less about getting her way and instead about how to solve a problem, how her needs and the needs of others might be reconciled - an important life lesson, for sure.
Once you have placed the problem before your child and asked for her ideas, give her some time. You can say, for example, “Why don’t you think about it for a while? Let’s talk again later, or tomorrow, and see what your ideas are.” In doing this, you will be teaching yet another important lesson, because this is how most problems in life should be solved.
Step 4: Develop a Plan
In my experience, almost all children respond positively when I tell a family that “I have a plan” to solve a recurrent problem of family life. They may be skeptical, but they listen with interest. Deep down, they want a plan, as much as we do. (I will offer plans for solving specific family problems in future posts.)
Step 5: Express Appreciation and Praise for Increments of Effort and Success
Be sure to offer praise and appreciation for every increment of your child’s effort at compliance and self-control . Your acknowledgment of her effort and progress is a basic principle of successful problem solving.
Psychologists have learned from psychotherapy research that ongoing collaboration is an important element of successful therapy. This is also true in solving problems with our children. We should regularly, proactively, check in with children, and ask, for example, “How do you think we are doing with our morning problem?”
Copyright Ken Barish, Ph.D.
Ken Barish is the author of Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Emotions and Solving Family Problems .
Kenneth Barish, Ph.D. , is a clinical associate professor of Psychology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University.
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What are dysfunctional family relationships?
Common causes of family conflict, tips on interacting with difficult family members, when to cut ties with family members, dealing with difficult family relationships.
Struggling to coexist with difficult family members? Learn about common sources of conflict and how to deal with dysfunctional family relationships.
Mothers, fathers, siblings—your closest family members can form a lifelong social support system. They can celebrate your highs and give you comfort when you're at your lows. Even so, disagreements and misunderstandings are bound to happen. Minor conflicts between family members are normal, and they typically resolve on their own or with some constructive dialogue. But other conflicts can be much more significant. In cases where resentment and toxic patterns arise, family interactions can become lasting sources of frustration and tear relationships apart.
Difficult family relationships can take on many forms. You might have an overly critical dad who makes you feel anxious. Perhaps a sibling's jealousy is a constant source of tension at family functions. Or maybe you believe a new in-law's controlling behavior leads to unnecessary drama.
These turbulent family relationships can have long-lasting effects on your health and well-being. You might:
- Begin to blame yourself for these poor relationships.
- Experience fear and anxiety surrounding family or holiday events.
- Hesitate to reach out to other family members.
- Suffer from lack of emotional or financial support during hard times.
- Develop trouble sleeping or focusing due to the stress of these interactions.
Research even indicates that poor relationships with parents, siblings, or spouses can contribute to midlife depression symptoms . Exposure to domestic conflicts can also have a long-term impact on a child's well-being as well. One longitudinal study found that domestic arguments and violence can increase a child's risk of developing mental and physical health problems later in life.
To minimize these consequences, you can learn how to identify causes of family tension and take steps to create peaceful interactions. While you might eventually find that cutting ties is the best option for your health and happiness, there are approaches you can take that can help repair family bonds and improve your relationships with those closest to you.
Speak to a Licensed Therapist
Before you learn how to deal with difficult family members, it helps to examine why those relationships are rocky to begin with. Consider these common causes of family disputes and ways to navigate them:
Family members tend to have some degree of financial overlap. Siblings might bicker over an inheritance. Parents may have strong opinions on how their children handle money. Or adult children might feel the need to control their aging parents' finances.
When it comes to large family events, such as weddings or holiday parties, financial disagreements can often come to a head. However, there are ways to navigate money-related problems within your family.
Put things in writing. If you expect a family member to pay you back for a personal loan, for example, make a written agreement between the two of you. This can help you avoid arguments or even legal disputes.
Set boundaries. If a family member is pressuring you to loan or give them money or wants to dictate your finances, it's important to clarify the type of behavior you won't tolerate. Be clear so your family member will know when they’ve crossed the line.
Know when to be transparent. You don't have to share all of your financial details with anyone. But, in cases where your decisions may affect your family members, it's best to be transparent. You might want to talk to your children about details of their inheritance to avoid a future conflict, for example, or let your siblings know why you can't contribute to a shared expense.
[Read: Coping with Financial Stress]
Research from 2020 shows that about 19 percent of Americans are acting as unpaid family caregivers. The stresses and responsibilities of being a caregiver can weigh heavily on family relationships.
Studies indicate that tension between siblings tends to increase when a parent begins to need some level of caregiving. Perhaps you believe your sibling is in denial over your parent's health and needs to be more proactive. Or maybe you and your sibling disagree on whether an assisted living facility is the right housing choice for your parent.
Conflicts over caregiving aren't limited to sibling relationships. You might have arguments with your parents or spouse over how to raise your children.
When you and another family member are at odds over caregiving, try these tips:
Be open about what level of support you need as a caregiver. If you keep your feelings to yourself, resentment can grow and increase tensions.
Look for compromise and accept other people's limitations. If your sibling can't physically assist with caregiving, perhaps they can offer financial help. Remember to show your appreciation when your sibling takes on responsibilities.
If someone else is completely unable or unwilling to help with parental caregiving, try looking for support outside of your family .
[Read: Family Caregiving]
New family members
As your family expands, so does the potential for new conflicts. In one study of estrangement between mothers and adult children, more than 70 percent of the mothers said other family members caused the rift. The mothers often pointed to the child's partner or spouse as the problem.
These conflicts aren't limited to mothers and children, of course. You and your brother-in-law might have a contentious relationship. Or perhaps your father-in-law always seems to expect too much from you. To better get along with your in-laws:
Expect differences. Different families have different expectations, boundaries, and ways of doing things. Do you see your daughter-in-law as an untactful or even rude family member? Maybe she comes from a family background that encourages blunt language or tolerates teasing.
Focus on their most positive traits. Your in-laws are part of your family because someone else in your family saw the good in them. If you're having a hard time seeing past their flaws, try making a list of their strengths.
Find common interests. Although it's not always easy, you can usually find shared interests if you look hard enough. Ask about your in-laws' hobbies, passions, and past experiences until you find something that's relatable.
Political and religious differences
Religious and political similarities can affect the strength of family bonds. For example, studies indicate that when mothers share the same religion as adult children, they tend to experience higher-quality relationships.
On the other hand, when family members don't have the same views on religion or politics, it can trigger heated arguments. Maybe your sibling objects to group prayers before meals. Or perhaps you hear insults and snide remarks when you express your political views. Here's how to deal with difficult family members who have opposing views:
Identify useful conversations. When a debate starts, ask yourself what you hope to get from the interaction. Do you expect to completely change your family member's mind? Or are you trying to gain insight into their beliefs? Is it at all possible that either of you will budge on your position? Even if you’ll never agree about something, you can still move the conversation forward if you’re both willing to be open and respectful of each other’s views.
Avoid sweeping generalizations. Statements like, “Everyone on the left is evil” or “Everyone on the right is an idiot” can quickly escalate arguments and further entrench people.
Try to see the human element in the other person's values. Many political beliefs are shaped by an underlying concern for society, such as economic or environmental stability. By recognizing that, the other person’s views may not seem as wildly different from your own.
Know when to exit heated arguments. When emotions run too hot, make a respectful but firm exit from the conversation. You can say something like, “I'm not sure if this is productive. Let's leave it there.” Contain the urge to have the “last word.”
Be mindful of your jokes. Humor can often help diffuse a tense argument . However, avoid aggressive jokes that target the other person's beliefs or values.
Unresolved family issues
Things that happened in the past can have a lasting effect on family relationships. Did you and your son have an explosive argument when he was a teenager? If the matter went unresolved, he might continue to be resentful or distrustful of you. Did your parents seem to favor you over your brothers? Jealousy could become an underlying source of tension for your siblings.
Unresolved issues can often crop up during milestone events or times of change within the family. For example, insecurities over parental favoritism might reappear as you and your siblings begin to act as caregivers to an aging parent.
If you're the one holding onto an issue, speak up. Invite the other person to a private conversation, where you can bring up the issue and share your perspective. Be willing to forgive if the party apologizes for their part in the problem.
If a family member is holding resentment, be empathetic. Try to understand how they perceived events and how the past continues to affect them. If you caused some harm to them in the past, apologize and ask how you can repair the damage to the relationship. For example, if you lost your temper with your son in the past, explain how you plan to do better going forward.
If neither person is at fault, it can still help to acknowledge the past and the effects of growing up in a dysfunctional family. Remember that no family is perfect, and past events influence present-day perceptions. Focus on what steps you can take in the present to resolve the conflict .
Despite your best efforts and intentions, sometimes you'll find that you simply can't get along with a family member. Perhaps someone continues to hold a grudge against you or refuses to change their behavior.
Your general plan might be to avoid difficult family members. However, that strategy can often be foiled by weddings, funerals, and other family gatherings. Here are some alternate options:
Manage your own stress
Prioritize de-stressing before and after you have to interact with a difficult family member. Effective stress management techniques can range from meditation to going for a walk to journaling your thoughts or chatting face-to-face with a close friend.
If you start to feel stressed by the difficult family member during the event itself, don't hesitate to excuse yourself from the room and use some quick stress relief techniques to clear your head.
- Rely on your senses to ground yourself in the moment. Take in a deep breath of fresh air, find a friendly cat or dog to pet, or hum a tune to yourself. You can also use your imagination to picture something soothing, like your child's face or a relaxing setting.
- If you tend to freeze when under stress, activities that involve physical movement are often most effective. Consider doing some stretches, swaying to background music, or jogging in place to burn off tension.
Set and maintain boundaries
Strong, clear boundaries can protect you from toxic family interactions. Imagine you and your spouse are about to visit overbearing in-laws. Talk to your spouse and set a limit on how long the visit will last. You can also set boundaries on conversation topics. If you and your in-laws have had heated arguments over religion, it might be best to steer clear of the topic.
If someone attempts to cross your boundaries, keep your temper in check. Instead, be clear and direct about the consequence. For example, you could say something like: “If you keep bringing up that topic, I'll be leaving early.”
Build your emotional intelligence (EQ)
By strengthening your emotional intelligence, you can improve your ability to understand, manage, and express emotions. This can have a positive effect not just on your family relationships but on your overall mental health.
To enhance your EQ, you need to focus on four key skills:
- Social awareness
- Relationship management
You can develop these skills by taking steps such as using mindfulness to assess your emotional state and nonverbal cues. Read Improving Family Relationships with Emotional Intelligence for more strategies.
Change your focus
Be willing to acknowledge your family member's strengths as well as their flaws. Perhaps your sibling is confrontational and demanding, but at least they're always willing to help finance family events. Or maybe your mother-in-law is overly critical of you but always supportive of your children.
Acknowledge that a difficult family member might be going through rough circumstances of their own. From personal insecurities to substance addiction or mental illness, certain underlying factors could be fueling your family member's behavior.
Although these factors don't excuse the behavior, by being more empathetic you might gain a better understanding of the person and why they act the way they do.
Use conflict resolution skills
Conflict resolution skills can come in handy anytime you're dealing with family drama. These skills involve managing stress in the moment , being aware of both your own emotions and the other person's, and prioritizing resolution over winning the argument.
You might notice that an aging parent is lashing out due to a feeling of declining independence. A deescalating step might be to ask them to do you a favor or give them a task that allows them to feel needed.
[Read: Conflict Resolution Skills]
Limit expectations and practice acceptance
Make peace with the fact that some people have viewpoints or priorities that may never match your own. Your adult children, siblings, or parents will do what they feel is right for them, and you can't control their behavior. Try to treasure the relationship for what it is, or focus on other relationships that bring you joy.
At what point is a dysfunctional family relationship no longer worth saving? That may depend on different factors.
What's the potential for change? The other person must be willing to acknowledge the problem and work to change. Some people don't want to change, and you can't control their behavior. If you're dealing with a narcissistic family member , their inflated self-image, lack of empathy, and manipulative ways can hinder any meaningful progress.
How severe is the conflict? In cases of abuse , it’s usually advisable to cut ties with the family member. Remember that abuse doesn't necessarily have to be physical. People who subject you to verbal, emotional, or psychological abuse can also harm your sense of well-being. This could include a father-in-law who aims to humiliate you or siblings who use guilt-tripping to manipulate you.
Dealing with doubts
Cutting ties means ending contact with the difficult family member, which is not always easy. You might repeatedly question your decision or have a hard time accepting that the relationship is unsalvageable.
Keep a list of specific reasons why you've decided to end contact. Did the person cross your boundaries too many times? Did the stress of your interactions negatively affect other areas of your life? Write it all down, so you don't forget.
How to deal with the grief of ending a relationship
Depending on how close you were to the family member, you may need to take time to grieve the loss of the relationship.
Rather than suppress your feelings, identify and acknowledge them. It's normal to experience anything from anger to sadness to guilt following the end of a relationship. You should also expect grief to intensify on days that remind you of the family member, such as birthdays or holidays.
Talk to friends and other family members about the situation. Now is a good time to reach out for support. Tell the supportive people in your life what you need from them. You might even strengthen bonds with other family members.
Maintain your hobbies and health. Continue to engage in activities you love, and look after your physical healthy by exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating nutritious foods. Don't use drugs or alcohol to cope with your negative feelings .
Over time, people's behaviors and circumstances can change. So, know that cutting off ties doesn’t necessarily have to be permanent. If you see evidence that your family member is truly willing to make amends, there may be a chance of reconciliation.
Don't rush reconciliation, though. You should both accept that the process may take time and requires concrete steps for improving the relationship. With a combination of patience and improved communication , you might be able to repair that broken bond and move forward with a healthier relationship.
- Tips for Dealing with Difficult Family Members - Includes tips on coping during holidays. (U.S. Department of Interior)
- Help with Relationships - Articles addressing common relationship problems, such as arguments, conflict, and communication. (Relate UK)
- Buist, K. L., van Tergouw, M. S., Koot, H. M., & Branje, S. (2019). Longitudinal Linkages between Older and Younger Sibling Depressive Symptoms and Perceived Sibling Relationship Quality. Journal of Youth and Adolescence , 48(6), 1190–1202. Link
- Con, G., Suitor, J. J., Rurka, M., & Gilligan, M. (2019). Adult Children’s Perceptions of Maternal Favoritism During Caregiving: Comparisons Between Turkey and the United States. Research on Aging , 41(2), 139–163. Link
- Full-report-caregiving-in-the-united-states-01-21.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2022, from Link
- Gilligan, M., Suitor, J., Nam, S., Routh, B., Rurka, M., & Con, G. (2017). Family Networks and Psychological Well-Being in Midlife. Social Sciences , 6(3), 94. Link
- Paradis, A. D., Reinherz, H. Z., Giaconia, R. M., Beardslee, W. R., Ward, K., & Fitzmaurice, G. M. (2009). Long-Term Impact of Family Arguments and Physical Violence on Adult Functioning at Age 30 Years: Findings From the Simmons Longitudinal Study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry , 48(3), 290–298. Link
- Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Coleman, J., Wang, J., & Yan, J. J. (2021). Mothers’ attributions for estrangement from their adult children. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice . Link
- Sechrist, J., Suitor, J. J., Vargas, N., & Pillemer, K. (2011). The Role of Perceived Religious Similarity in the Quality of Mother-child Relations in Later Life: Differences Within Families and Between Races. Research on Aging , 33(1), 3–27. Link
- Suitor, J. J., Gilligan, M., Johnson, K., & Pillemer, K. (2014). Caregiving, Perceptions of Maternal Favoritism, and Tension Among Siblings. The Gerontologist , 54(4), 580–588. Link
- Waldinger, R. J., Vaillant, G. E., & Orav, E. J. (2007). Childhood Sibling Relationships as a Predictor of Major Depression in Adulthood: A 30-Year Prospective Study. American Journal of Psychiatry , 164(6), 949–954. Link
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Are Your Relatives Toxic? How to Deal With Family Problems
- December 11, 2020
Learning how to deal family problems doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s worth the effort. Why? Because your health and happiness is at stake! And so is the health and happiness of your family.
You can’t change your family, but you can change how you deal with them. These tips on how to cope with toxic family problems and relationships are inspired by a reader who doesn’t want to talk to her mom anymore.
On my article about dealing with difficult parents , a reader said she decided to completely cut ties with her mom. Her mother constantly criticized her and her boyfriend, tried to manipulate them into lending money, and called and texted at all hours of the night. My reader doesn’t know what to do anymore, she’s tired of it, and she doesn’t know how to handle family problems. It’s been going on for four years, and she wants to cut her mother out of her life. Below are my suggestions for her, which may help you deal with your own relatives.
Some family problems can’t be solved, and you can’t change any one of your family members. The only thing you can do to solve family problems is to change your response to your relatives. This is the best tip because it gives you some power. You’ll never have enough power to change your toxic relatives, but you can find the strength you need to respond to them differently.
6 Ways to Deal With Family Problems
The best tip on how to handle family problems is to try different things until you find what works for you and your family.
If you’re struggling with potential in-laws, read How to Stop Your Boyfriend’s Mother From Ruining Your Relationship .
1. Get in-person or online counseling support
I’m not a certified counselor or life coach, and I can’t offer online counseling here. But, there are hundreds of online counselors and psychologists who can help you solve your relationship and family problems – and I suspect there are many counselors, life coaches, and psychologists in your area. You don’t need to commit to years of therapy; sometimes all you need is a session or two to give you the guidance and support you need.
2. Find a support group
I’ve recently joined a “support group” (it’s more of a book club) of women who need to set and stick to healthy boundaries. Talking with people who have similar problems and experiences is a great way to find solutions! My support group is studying the Boundaries book, and we discuss both the book and our personal life experiences. A support group can help you solve problems and make you feel less alone.
If alcohol, drug, or other addictions are complicating your family problems, contact a group such as Al-Anon. Find people who are going through something similar.
If one of your family members is struggling with alcoholism, you may find 6 Ways to Help an Alcoholic Brother or Sister helpful.
3. Look for books that address your relationship or family problem
I’m a huge fan of reading books that directly relate to what I’m going through! My husband and I are dealing with infertility, and so we both read books on living a childless life. My mom is mentally ill, so I’ve read a ton of literature on how schizophrenia affects family life – and I even got a degree in Psychology! If you need to solve toxic family relationships and learn how to handle family problems , sometimes it’s most helpful to go the library and look for the right books.
4. Remove yourself from the situation – find ways to get unstuck
I often get comments and questions about bad breakups, unhealthy relationships, toxic parents, family problems, and other situations that I can’t provide adequate advice for.
“How to Solve Family Problems” image via Elaine Mao, Wikimedia, CC License
So many people say they’re “stuck”, they can’t get out, and they don’t know what to do. One possibility is to remove themselves from the situation – as difficult as it may be! That may mean letting go of someone you love because it’s a bad relationship. Or, it could mean changing the expectations you have of your loved ones. Sometimes the only solution for relationship and family problems is to take a step back and give yourself time to breathe and think. In the meantime, get in-person or online counseling help!
5. Talk to a life coach about how to handle family problems
You don’t necessarily have to see a therapist or counsellor when you’re learning how to deal with toxic relatives. Sometimes a life coach can offer more practical and “actionable” tips for handling family problems.
If you’re dealing with marriage problems, consider talking to a marriage coach. I’ve heard nothing but good about marriage coach Mert Fertel, who helps couples rebuild unhappy relationships. If online marriage counseling doesn’t work for you, then talk to a life coach, your pastor, or even a wise trusted mentor. To solve your problems and achieve your goals, you need to find the right people who can help you!
6. Get as emotionally and physically healthy as possible
You can’t change your partners, friends, or family members. It’s futile to wish they were different or try to change them into different people. But, you can change your expectations, your responses, your attitudes, and your thoughts. And that’s where books like Boundaries are so important in when you’re learning how to handle family problems. Get your mind, heart, body, and souls as physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy as possible – without worrying about trying to solve all your relationship and family problems.
I welcome your thoughts below. I can’t give advice on how to solve family problems, but sometimes it helps just to write about how you feel. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you gain more insight into your relatives.
Need encouragement? Stay in touch! Get my free weekly email
6 thoughts on “are your relatives toxic how to deal with family problems”.
If you can’t solve your family problems on your own (and most of us can’t!), then you need to talk to somebody in person. Find someone wise and trustworthy, and share what you’re going through.
It’s scary and sometimes embarrassing and even shameful to open up about family problems, but honestly it’s the only way to solve them. You need to talk through your problems before you can fix them.
Can you do this?
I’ve had family problems my whole life and I do not know why.Its like I’m in a living hell. my late mother also complained. I do not know what to do.
Hi there, my name is nicole i am 24 and married with 3 children, i am seeking some kind of support or help, me and my husband have lost eachother so bad. he was such a wonderful husband always made me laugh and the best dad you could ever ask for. But he doesnt laugh with me anymore all he ever laughs with are the ppl he works with and as soon as he comes back home from a week away he doesnt seem happy with me or his kids. i try to talk to him about it but he just just gets upset because he’s taking it the wrong way . yes i do get mad but thats only because i could talk to him about his kids and my feelings to him always leaving and he shuts us out with either the tv or he just says OK! IM SORRY! just to shut me up. yes i do feel like he is probaly feeling bombarded by all my concerns and worries with him . please help what do i do how to i make myself better for him and me to be happy
Im so confused im in love but restricte/bordered with religious belief&emotional and health like-wise conciousness. Pls help
Iam and adult child living back home with my child. I left and abusive marrage. Now I am living with my parents I love them dearly but the way they raise thier children is differt. My mother is always butting in when my daughter and I aruge then my daugher is now getting her way. It is very upsetting that no is backing me up. I don’t know what to do anymore.
For the Women. Who do you let check the oil and water in your car for you and why? Secondly How often do they check it for you? Thirdly when is the last time they checked it for you?
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4 Signs of Family Problems & How to Resolve Them
In This Article
It is normal to experience problems and issues in personal relationships.
All families go through conflicts and difficult times. Family problems can be overwhelming and stressful for a person. In such cases, you need advice on family problems.
Here, we have discussed the causes and tried to figure out what helps in resolving family problems and conflicts.
Before we delve into how to deal with family problems, let’s take an overview of signs of family troubles.
Signs of family problems
Here is the first family problem advice.
The first thing that you should look at while figuring out if anything is wrong between the family members is to ask yourself, what are some family issues that are disturbing your family dynamics?
Here are some common family difficulties. If any of these family relationship problems resonate with your situation, it’s time to seek family advice.
1. Frequent arguing
Family members are arguing with each other on a frequent basis. There are very few things you can reach a consensus on. This is one of the signs that there is an underlying problem.
It seems as if you disagree with everything , and there is not a single thing that you could agree upon and work on together.
3. Breakdown In communication
You don’t communicate much with your family members.
If there are issues going on in your life, because of them or otherwise, instead of talking about it, you tend to stay away from them.
A few other signs of underlying conflicts include angry outbursts , physical conflict, etc.
Reasons for family problems
The next piece of advice on family problems is to figure out the causes of those issues.
The following are some of the reasons which form the basis of problems among family members.
- Your opinions are different
- Your personalities don’t match up
- You share different beliefs
- Your stance on moral values and ethics differ
- You have goals that are separate from one another
- Financial problems can also cause issues amongst members of the family.
- If you have been newly divorced / separated, that can also be a cause of family issues.
If you or your family member is undergoing some stress-related issues because of work or anything else, that can also be a trigger for problems and conflicts.
A few other causes might be as follows:
- Gambling issues
- Mental health problems
- Natural calamities
- Lack of Trust
Consequences of family problems
Family members are very important to a person.
Each member of the family plays a key role in any individual’s life. Their importance is unprecedented.
So having issues with them can be very hard on a person. They can lead to the accumulation of negative emotions such as anger and sadness and can make you anxious.
Family problems can be very stressful. You tend to be confused and exhausted as a result of it.
You start feeling isolated and become withdrawn. It is very hard to concentrate and focus. You face difficulties in everyday functioning, eating, and sleeping.
One may start using alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism. However, the impact of substance abuse on a family is devastating and sometimes beyond repair.
If there are children in the family, they end up paying a heavy cost of growing up in a dysfunctional family
Reconciling family conflicts
Families can be difficult; most of us have been there. So, how do you solve family problems?
Developing healthy problem-solving is the key to repairing damaged family relationships.
The first step in finding solutions to family problems is communicating.
To solve family problems, discuss your problems with your loved ones calmly and honestly.
You should accept the fact that opinions differ, and you may not always agree on the same things. Accepting the differences goes a long way in solving the conflicts .
Even when you are having issues, try to make time for your loved ones.
Another advice on family problems is to have fun together.
Having fun together helps in resolving the conflicts between family members.
You should plan things properly. If you are having financial issues, making a budget will definitely help in resolving your issues. I
If you are unable to solve things on your own, don’t hesitate to ask for external help.
Where to go for help
Problems in the family? Where to go to help?
If you need the best advice on family problems, you can talk to your friends and other family members.
You can also get relationship counseling from an LMFT-Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist or ask for mediation from someone who can equip you with the right advice and tools on how to fix family problems while also helping you identify the root cause of problems with family.
A trained, verified professional is credible, experienced, and well equipped to understand common family problems and solutions and can dispense useful advice on family issues from an unbiased lens.
Suppose you need help with family problems but feel reluctant to approach a third-party mediation. In that case, you can also check out helpful information online on common family problems and seek good advice for family problems.
That way, you won’t feel like you are exposing your family-related issues to anyone while also getting the right help with family issues.
You can attend courses and workshops on communication, budgeting, etc. If you are concerned about health issues of yourself or other members, you should consult your general physician.
Also, watch this video:
Final take away
All of us have faced difficulties and issues at times.
Facing these problems within the family can be very difficult.
However, there are methods and ways by which you can solve family conflicts. Everyone needs advice on family problems as they can manifest at any point in life, even in the happiest of family units.
Talk to your loved ones, or seek professional help and sort out your issues.
Embrace the differences in each of the family member’s mindset, lifestyle, and be open to overcoming difficult times together as a family , solidly, and successfully.
Strive to bind your family with love and solidarity for a healthy future.
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According to the Centers for Family Change, common family problems include communication breakdowns, lack of discipline, lack of respect, parenting concerns and adjustment to divorce.
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6 Ways to Deal With Family Problems · 1. Get in-person or online counseling support · 2. Find a support group · 3. Look for books that address your
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