ďAfter a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even oneís own relationsĒ - Oscar Wilde, 'A Woman of No Importance.'
There is nothing more warming than a loving, family environment. Whether you are raising a child, coming home to your family every day after school, or trying to stay in touch after moving out; a close family makes a happy environment.
Now, nobody is perfect, and all families have their problems. Having just been through the most family-focussed time of the year worldwide - Christmas - you might be currently wearing your family feuds on your sleeves, or regretting what you did or didnít say to that brother youíve never quite got along with who just sat by and let his kids have a food fight during Christmas dinner at your house, and then didnít even offer to help clean up.
You might still be feeling slightly frustrated that your step son and his wife forgot that they were supposed to bring dessert, and then told you how much they enjoyed not having any responsibilities on Christmas while you made salads, mains and a dessert all by yourself.
Did your parents snap at you under the stress of the big day, resulting in a fight and the fact that you fumed your way back to university or college, and havenít really spoken to them since?
Want the best advice you can get right now? Itís not worth it.
At the end of the day, however inconsiderate and frustrating your relatives may be, they are still your family. Your parents care about you, and when your relationship breaks down or your landlord kicks you out, they will be there for you.
Donít leave it any longer. Reconcile as soon as you can. It doesnít have to be an apology. You both know to put it behind you. A simple ďhey, how you goingĒ is enough to get the ball rolling again. This will not only make you feel better, even if your good will is unreciprocated. It will also set an example for your children, and at least begin to clear the air. A child raised in a friendly environment will grow up to be much more open and considerate than one who is brought up amidst family feuds.
If your family problems are a little more serious than who forgot the chocolate ripple cake; there are some options for you. Here are some simple steps to get your family some relief:
Look for support
Whether it is another family who hasnít taken a side or a friend from outside family; find someone who can support you. This person should not have a personal investment in the problem that is troubling you. They need to be as neutral as Switzerland. This is because their job is to bring you back to earth; not to fuel or encourage your frustration.
Donít freak out and think the sky is falling down around you. You will get through this, and it is not the end of the world. No matter how difficult it is dealing with your family members, donít yell at them. That will only give them permission to yell back, and this exchange will work you up even more without solving anything.
Be the model of family
Set an example for the rest of the family to follow. Offer to help out around the house; suggest catch-ups, and maybe let your parents sleep in for an extra half hour before you wake them up complaining that youíre bored or with the TV roaring at 7am. Donít go so far as to let them think they can walk all over you; but let them know that you are there for them and willing to set things right.
And remember, everyone likes a hug.
ďFamily is not an important thing. Itís everythingĒ Ė Michael J Fox