Problems in Family Relationships • A Help Guide
What are the causes of family related difficulties?
There are many factors that can negatively affect relationships in families.
Awkward household dynamics such as living in close proximity to others can cause tension and negativity. When seeing someone so often, you may be able to notice their habits and routines that may cause you annoyance.
Changes to the family
Other factors include a change in family dynamics such as moving house, the arrival of a new baby or new resident in the home.
Differences of opinion
Conflicts in interest, opinion and feelings are also suggested to be a leading factor of relationship difficulties. Many family disputes may start when one individual partakes in activities that other members disagree with.
Control issues can be another common way for disputes to begin. Some individuals may be territorial or particular about the environment in which they live in.
Arguments can be started about the positioning of belongings and messiness in the house. Research also suggests that many adolescents feel as though their parents can be over-controlling which leads to many family disputes.
However, research says that many parents feel as if their children do not respect boundaries.
When someone has a mental, neurological or physical health problem, this can cause strain on a household. Stress levels are increased as there may be a high focus on recovery and management of illness. High levels of anxiety may occur along with limited focus on other aspects of life that individuals may also deem important.
Occupational problems such as someone losing their job can bring added stress to not only the individual, but also the household. Also, ‘bringing work home’, can be an added stressor. It is important to maintain a healthy balance between work and home life.
Trust issues can be a cause of relationship problems. For example if an individual has had an affair in the past but the couple decide to try and work through this, the partner or rest of the family can hold anxiety about this happening again. Feelings of resentment may also lead to further problems.
When an individual suffers with addiction in smoking, drug taking, alcohol, shopping and gambling, this can lead to the partner or rest of the family being affected.
It can be painful to watch a loved one be addicted to something. It can also be confusing for others with limited understanding.
The addicted individual may lie, be short-tempered and spend a lot of money on his or her addiction.
Research suggests that financial struggles are a common reason for why relationship problems occur. This increased stress and can limit the amount of enjoyable activities within a household.
Emotional and physical abuse can be a problem within families and couples. Abuse can lead to high stress levels and many further negative feelings in the victim and others. Feelings such as guilt, anger, loneliness and anxiety can be onset. It is also important to note that some people have a high conflict tendency. The reasons for this can be complex.
Attachment issues can also play an important role in relationships. The relationships that we have at a young age can influence us later in adulthood.
Attachment theory suggests that our relationship with our parents/ caregivers at a young age can influence our social and emotional development.
Unhealthy relationships when young can mean that an individual may struggle to form healthy relationships when older.
In addition, if an individual has experienced a negative relationship in the past, they may hold anxiety and scepticism that their current relationship will be negative. This can lead to false expectations, frustration, trust issues and further relationship problems.
Stop Running Away From Your Family Problems
A letter to the newspaper advice column Annie's Mailbox on 7/12/12 brought up an issue frequently seen in such columns: how to respond to relatives who seem to go their way to make you miserable:
“My mother and I have had a poor relationship for years. She is self-absorbed, demanding and consistently hurtful. She seems to find great amusement in upsetting me and takes every opportunity to do so … This kind of behavior is typical of her, and I am tired of it.
I have tried to discuss it with her, and she refuses to accept that she has done anything wrong. I finally decided to sever all contact. … The problem is that the rest of my family berates me for being 'mean' to her. They expect me to maintain this destructive relationship.
How can I explain to them how horribly she treats me?”
The response of the Annies generated a lot of heat from readers:
“We can see that your mother is difficult, but instead of cutting her off and being the family black sheep, we recommend finding a better way to deal with her.
You seem very sensitive to her comments and behavior. The best way to convince her to treat you better is to respond differently. Get some counseling and work on this.
If you can change the dynamic between you, you will be less resentful and hurt.”
Here are some of the reader comments that followed, some of which addressed the writer of the letter rather than the Annies:
Are you serious? Get counseling and try to change the dynamic? Are you two for real? This woman has been emotionally abused for what seems to be her entire life, she decides to take care of herself and sever contact and that's what you tell her to do? … Honey, you did the right thing for yourself and your mental health… If your family can't accept your decision, then that's their problem.
2. The Annies sometimes offer good advice, but they are so far off-base this time, I'm surprised they still have an advice column. Perhaps they should rename their column “Bend over and take it, honey, then get some counseling to ease the soreness.”
3. Your mother enjoys belittling you and hurting your feelings because you're such an easy target. Grow a spine and stand up for yourself for once in your life …
all you have to do is stand firm and ask her pointedly, “Are you feeling okay mom? You seem to be acting crazy?” Then carry on as if nothing happened.
If she continues to act out, then inform others present nonchalantly that you're concerned that your mom might be demented.
If this level of behavior upsets you enough to cut your mother permanently your life, what are you going to do when you get out into the work world with that fresh new college diploma and meet the obnoxious co-worker, the overbearing boss, the VP who never says thank you for a job well-done, the surly bus driver, the waiter who forgets your order every day? What will you do when your spouse says he/she doesn't care for your spinach lasagna, or suggests that suit you're wearing is, ahem, a bit too tight and date? What will you do when your kids tell you're clueless, that they hate you, and storm the house? I don't often agree with the Annies, but this time I really do … seriously, you need to develop a thicker skin or you are never going to survive in the world.
5. You're doing the right thing cutting her off. Ignore the Annies (they are idiots anyway), and your ” family” who defend your mother's nastiness. .. “Grow a thicker skin?” Really [writer of letter #4 above]? That's the saying of a bully who needs a well-turned phrase to justify their cruelty.
6. I DO agree with the Annies that counseling is in order for the LW, if only to help him deal with the hurt he is feeling because of his mother's rude behavior. However, possibly severing all contact with her may be a little over the top. It COULD mean severing all contact with the rest of his family also, since they seem to be siding with her.
As you can see, the Annies' recommendation that the writer find a better way to deal with Mom rather than cut her off outraged many readers. Some instead recommended a “toxic parent” strategy, otherwise known as “divorce your family!” Permanently. Why should you have to put up with maltreatment? Life is too short.
It seems that a lot of folks think that there are only three possible solutions to cope with repetitive dysfunctional family patterns:
- Cut the offending family member and his or her family allies completely your life.
- Grow a spine and fight back.
- Try to let it go in one ear and out the other.
Solutions #2 and #3 are in essence saying, “Put up with it.” Oh yeah, really? Easier said than done! Try ignoring a torrent of hateful behavior directed at you by intimates for any length of time. I dare you. You could see a cognitive therapist from now until doomsday in order to learn how to think “rationally” about the abuse, but it will still make your life a living hell.
So what’s wrong with solution number one? Well, for one thing, we are all emotionally attached to our families of origin whether we it or not—or whether we them or not.
This is easiest to see with children, who will often cling to abusive parents, if given half a chance, rather than to a loving foster family.
With adults, whether they admit it or not, members of dysfunctional families long for the loving mother or father they never had.
Second, unresolved dysfunctional family patterns quite frequently affect one’s relationships with one’s own children.
Some abused children, for instance, become abusive parents themselves, while others go to the other extreme and end up smothering their children with disabling helicopter parenting.
The latter pattern sometimes results in a generation of, say, alcoholics begetting a generation of uptight teetotalers who then beget another generation of alcoholics.
Are these really your only choices? Continue to take abuse, constantly fight, or pretend you don’t give a darn? To those who think so, I can certainly understand why you might think so. But I have three words for you: You are wrong.
Effective problem-solving in such families is understandably thought by many to be impossible. With good reason. But it is not.
While it is true that you have no power to “fix” another individual, you do have power within your own kin group to fix your relationship with another family member.
It is not easy, and often requires the assistance of a therapist trained in dealing with dysfunctional family members. It is well worth the effort to find such help.
Quit trying to run away from your family and its problems! Take the bull by the horns. If you are an abuser yourself, it is time for you to fess up to what you have done instead of hiding behind denial that everyone knows is as phony as a three dollar bill.
Are one or more of your kids completely control? When you spend time with your parents or even talk to them on the phone, do you feel you've just spent hours listening to a bunch of people simultaneously scratching their fingernails on a chalkboard? Do you find yourself hurting the ones you love, or letting them hurt you? Do you feel that your family members are better off without you? Were you a victim of childhood abuse? Do you constantly subvert your own chances for success in love and work? Are you chronically anxious and depressed?
Well, you come from a wild and crazy family. But guess what? That's OK! You do not have to beat yourself up about it. It's not all your fault, although you do contribute to the problems despite your best efforts to avoid doing so.
All families have issues and conflicts, although some are far worse than others. Hating yourself or your family, and/or feeling guilty about everything not only makes you miserable, but it also makes the rest of your family miserable as well.
The good news: It is never too late to stop the intergenerational transmission of dysfunctional family patterns.
The bad news: Although medication can ease distress, you cannot buy your way this with pharmaceuticals.
Many people these days are going to their doctors and demanding medications to sedate themselves into oblivion, and unfortunately many of my colleagues in psychiatry are only willing to oblige them.
Worse yet, people try to blame their children’s problems on non-existent or extremely rare mental disorders childhood bipolar disorder, and then drug their kids to keep them quiet.
Despite the discomfort it will invariably cause you, step up to the plate and repair the relationship with your parents and save your children and their children. Otherwise, you and your children may be caught in an endless loop.
Good psychotherapy is available.
There is, as usual, a major caveat: Going to certain common types of therapists will not solve the problems of which I speak.
If your therapist seems to blame your problems on your having regressed to childhood, or tells you that your thoughts are all irrational and unfounded or that you are no more complicated than a rat in a maze responding to food pellets and electric shocks, find another one.
Find a therapist who knows about genograms and /or mental schemas. Find one who can help you to discover the nature of the repetitive interpersonal behavior patterns you and your family engage in, and to understand what purpose they serve. Such therapists can be difficult to locate, but it is unquestionably worth the effort.
[Marketing alert, but only in a good way: Look for the type of therapists that I described near the end of my post, “Finding a Good Psychotherapist.”]
And stick with it! When you talk about the relationships that make you depressed and anxious, there is no way to avoid temporarily feeling even more depressed and more anxious. I wish I knew a way around that, but I do not. I do know that most of you can take it.
You are more resilient than you think. Although therapists should be empathic and non-judgmental, a therapist who treats you with kid gloves is not helping you.
After all, if a supposed expert on the subject thinks you can't handle the truth, it is easy to believe that you are weaker than you really are.
I recommend trying to find some way to get around one's family's natural defensiveness in order to discuss the family dynamics and to alter dysfunctional relationship patterns (metacommunication).
If you change your approach to family members, it can force the others to change their approach to you.
Family systems theorists n the family to a mobile—if you tug at one hanging part, it reverberates throughout the whole piece.
But it's a bit more complicated than that. Family members have numerous and powerful tricks to counteract changes that you try to make.
The target of your meta-communication may counterattack with their own complaints about you, some of which may be valid, without ever addressing your complaints about them.
Seldom-seen family members may come the woodwork to express the sentiment, “You're wrong, change back!”
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for discussing family interactions, since each family has there own unique dynamics and sensitivities. A therapist should tailor their advice to the sensitivities and proclivities of each individual family member.
Nowhere is stepping up to the plate more important than for parents who had physically, verbally, or sexually abused their children, or severely neglected them, when their children were growing up. You know who you are.
No matter how terrible what you did was, you can make things better for yourself and everyone else from this point in time forward. All the denial in the world will not change the fact that both you and the person or persons you abused know exactly what you did.
Parents who push their adult children away through cruel or unpleasant behavior because of a sense that their children are better off without them not only punish themselves, but do their children no favors either.
By the same token, trying to make your children hate you through constantly accusing them of lying or by minimizing the significance of what you did will not make them feel better, but far worse. It accomplishes nothing but making them feel almost subhuman.
And you know, down deep, how much you really want them to love you and forgive you. And your children really do, deep down, want to forgive you. Please let them.
'Fess up to what you did directly to them and stop making excuses. Tell them how sorry you are even if that seems to make them angry or if they refuse to accept your apology. Tell them that you would them to forgive you but you know you may not deserve it and you will certainly understand if they feel they cannot do so.
Try to explain to them the experiences that you had growing up that may have led you to do the foul deeds, but without using those explanations as a justification for your actions. There is no justification. Again, in order to do this right, you will probably need a therapist to teach you the best approach to your victims.
You have three choices. First, you can deny what you did and continue to lie to everyone including yourself, but you will always know that it is true.
Second, you can continually beat yourself up about it as if your shortcomings are written in stone and any harm you may have inflicted on your children is unforgivable and irreversible.
The result of this course of self-damning action is continued guilt, which leads to more and more unpleasant feelings, which in turn lead to desperation, despair, and hopelessness.
Those two choices will not only make you feel worse, they will not help your children feel any better about you, your relationship with them, or their childhood. As I mentioned, it usually makes them feel much worse.
A much better course of action is to forgive yourself for your human frailties, learn from your mistakes so that you do not repeat them, and talk openly with your offspring as best you know how about what had happened and why you felt and acted the way that you did.
It is time for you to do this. Do not procrastinate—you might change your mind. There will never be a better time than right now. The transmission of dysfunctional family patterns from one generation to the next can be stopped.
6 Tips to Avoid Family Conflicts
One of the most trying aspects of life comes when a family member is aging. Whether the argument is over driving privileges, housing options, or financial issues, getting older can definitely take its toll on even the closest of families.
In order to avoid these kinds of family conflicts and trying arguments, verse your family in these tips to make getting older a less frustrating process:
Arguments build over time when the people affected do not speak up soon enough. Avoiding family conflicts becomes easier when everyone understands how someone is feeling.
If your mother or father do not want to give up their right to drive a car, it is important that he or she says so. If your children think it is important for you to stop driving for your safety, it is also important that they say so.
Heated arguments can be avoided, if you just take a little time to listen and communicate how you are feeling.
Now that you have learned to communicate your feelings, it is also important to be sensitive.
Aging is a hard process for everyone, and there is no right way to settle your affairs. Be sure to be patient and kind when discussing matters such as housing, diet, exercise or driving.
This way, elderly family members are more ly to come to compromises with their children or other relatives.
Finally, remember that things change. While one situation may have worked out for you and your family in the past, it may be time to move on to new and better things. By understanding that aging happens to the best of us, you are that much closer to still living your life.
Tips To Help Your Family
Here are 6 tips to help avoid family conflicts:
- State the problem and determine who needs to work together to develop the solution. When family members clearly identify a problem, they can begin to work on it. However, when people don't acknowledge the problem, or avoid discussing it altogether, a successful resolution becomes impossible.
- Establish ground rules for resolving the problem. Before discussing ways to resolve the problem, set some rules for the discussion. For example, agree that no one will call anyone names, or ban yelling. Encourage small breaks from the discussion if tempers flare, and emphasize the importance of resolving conflict peacefully.
- Brainstorm solutions to the problem. Allow everyone involved to offer input into potential solutions. During the brainstorming process, don't judge whether each solution is good or bad, but instead, create a list of potential solutions.
- Evaluate the risks and benefits of each potential solution. Listen to each family member's input about the pros and cons of the solutions.
- Reach a solution as a team. Try to reach a consensus about which solution will best resolve the conflict. Be willing to negotiate, and encourage family members to be open to new solutions.
- Identify what each family member will do to work on the solution. Each person should identify action steps he or she will take to work toward the solution.
There are many ways you can prepare your family for the transitions that come with aging together. Want to learn more about professional caregiving, conflict resolutions, and solving family conflicts?
How to Overcome Family Problems
We are social animals and we don’t live in seclusion. However, while living with people, we also most of the time find ourselves in conflicting situations. How to overcome conflicts in the family is a very important lesson in our life.
One of the common conflicts is the disagreements between the parents and the children. When there is more than one child in a family, siblings’ rivalry happens to be a common phenomenon.
Last but not the least is the conflict between the spouses. The husband and wife share a common life and they also are always in conflicting situations.
To iron the differences between the family members, you have to learn how to overcome conflicts in the family.
You can take the first step to overcome conflicts in the family by pondering over the root of the differences between the members. Children always complain that their parents don't understand them.
On the other hand parents usually chide that their children disregard them. Similarly, a kid could be dissatisfied when his/her parents show special concern to another child more than him/her. If is not handled properly, conflict can be a cause of family disintegration.
To overcome conflicts in the family, you have to learn how to manage conflicts.
Here are five tips for overcoming family conflict.
Communication is very important aspect of family life, and more importantly conflict management. When there is a rift between the members, talking will help reduce tension. You must not only share your thoughts, but also be willing to listen to others’ views. Communication does not only mean spoken words.
It is the tone of your speech, body language and choice of words. As you talk with the members of your family, you will release your perception and wait for their reaction. If there are differences in agreement, communication always resolves issues.
Communication is the most important aspect of overcoming family conflicts.
Men cry even though they say men don't cry | Source
Root of conflict lies deep within the foundation of our society. Culture and tradition ask young people to respect their parents’ and elders’ decision, whereas the modern education teaches them to have their own view of life. Neither the educational system is wrong nor are the parents trying to harm their children. However, truth is, the difference in opinions creates family conflict.
Lack of trust not only buoys up conflict between parents and children but also between husband and wife. Distrust within the members widens the chasm. You have to build up an environment of trust to overcome family conflicts.
To deal with complicated life, everyone has his/her own vision. Every day your life appears more challenging, and you are burdened with stress. Nevertheless, you must not impose your attitudes and thoughts on other people.
Imposing you views not only builds up conflict but also makes your life stressful. Sometimes to overcome conflict, you have to maintain a certain distance with the members.
The space you give to your family members will help them manage stress, and in the long run you will be able to overcome conflicts in the family.
To overcome conflict, don’t ever overreact. You cannot control your spouse’s or children’s perception. Your decisions are your emotions, so you have to understand other members in your family too, will make decisions their observations.
When everyone begins to think only about his or her perception, obviously conflict will heighten. Overreacting is always dangerous. You react after you develop certain perception, and you have to learn to understand the concept of actions and reactions. With every action there will be a reaction.
Don’t overreact during critical situations; instead, focus your perception for managing conflict.
Young people by nature are rebellious, and parents must be tolerant to their children’s strange behavior. They must remember, once they too were young, and they too had picked bones with their parents.
Tolerance is also significant to manage conflict between the spouses. Even though the wife may dis her hubby’s certain behavior, or the husband hate certain things in his wife, they both must be tolerant to such things. To manage conflicts and overcome conflicts in the family, you have to be tolerant to other members.
These five points are time tested. Try to remember these tips and apply them in your family to overcome conflict. Conflict is a natural phenomenon, but you have to learn how to manage conflict to live a better life in the family.
Five fingers in our hand are not equal. So, it is obvious, the members in a family have different attitude and aptitude, thoughts and perceptions. You have to have deference for other people’s point of view. Always be open minded to overcome conflicts in the family.