Not many of us can relate to the Brady Bunch - we love our families, yet some degree of friction seems overwhelmingly common. Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS at freedigitalphotos.net
Ideally, time spent with one’s family is something to look forward to, and, if were anything like the Brady Bunch, we’d all relate to one another peacefully and happily.
However, how peaceful and happy time with families in real life ranges from pretty terrific to mediocre, with odd conflicts perhaps arising, to being in something akin to a fiery furnace house.
Perhaps, for the majority of the year, we are not faced with the ease or difficulty of relating, communicating and spending time with family members (unless we are children living with our parents). As grown-ups, we move away, perhaps get married and have children.
However, certain times of the year almost carry an obligation that we spend time with our immediate families. If you are in the category of having not-to-bad to pretty terrible relationships with your family, here are some ideas that might make it easier.
1. Silence can be golden. If you feel a quarrel starting, it almost always seems to escalate when we retort, ‘have our say’ and protest.
2. Remember that, no matter how many fights you have with your family, you only have one. I used to fight with mum quite a bit, but after her diagnosis and recovery from breast cancer, I have let go of a lot of resentment. I hate quarrelling now because of a renewed appreciation of how important she is to me.
3. Say you are visiting for family time. If you know you can only spend one day without a fight beginning, or even less, it is probably excusable to tell a lie to leave early, rather than later on a sour note.
4. If your family aren’t close enough to discuss more deep and meaningful matters because you aren’t that close, talk about more superficial topics that don’t lend themselves to conflict – for example the weather, and what’s been on the news.
5. If other members of your family are fighting but you are not involved, it is not your reponsibility to fix it. You do have a right to go for a walk and even leave if the fight continues. It is hard to blame someone if they weren’t involved in the fight.
6. If you feel your temper fraying, you can try:
-taking a few deep breaths
-go for a toilet break!
-take a walk in the garden or a short walk down the road
7. A sense of humour always lightens things up a bit when there’s friction in the air. Have a few tasteful jokes that might be of your family’s taste. It’s hard to argue when you are laughing.
8. Even if you are not in the wrong, it can never hurt but can in fact help a lot to apologise. If you feel indignant because you feel you were not to blame, tell yourself you are just sorry that whatever it was caused someone to feel upset.
9. You could try introducing conversation that relates to happy and positive family times that you shared together. This can help unite people and uplift spirits.
10. Before you are due to spend time with your family, you may want to write a note or a card, telling them how much you are looking forward to it, and generally project a positive feeling. This can set the stage for a good mood later.