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Relationships - family problems

Dealing with problems in your family

Family problems can be difficult to get a handle on as there might be a lot of people involved. Also most of us are not used to looking at our families objectively - we tend to think they are just our family and that is how it is. However a bit of reflection and analysis can take the heat out of a lot of difficult situations.

Try and think about what you are trying to achieve

Give yourself the benefit of any doubt and attribute the best motives to your behaviour. Get together all the examples you can of where the plan has worked for others etc. Maybe get a friend to help you. You don't have to write it down, just think it through. If at this point you realise you're doing the wrong thing, you might want to make a strategic withdrawal! However let's assume you end up convinced you know what you are doing and you have a bit of evidence to back this up.

Think about why your family is disagreeing with you

There is probably more than one reason. Maybe they don't understand your plan; maybe they had a course of action decided for you; maybe they have some worries and anxieties of their own. Some families in some communities can have particularly inflexible views.

Make a real effort to think yourself into their shoes even though their behaviour may be very frustrating to you. Imagine discussing the question with them - think of what you might say and how they might reply. When you've thought of what might be worrying them, think creatively of ways of reassuring them. If it helps, make a list of their worries and reassurances.

Find some way of discussing it

That's easy if your family are talkers, but many families aren't. However you can still find an opportunity to calmly mention your plans, to give a few examples of others who have done the same, to reassure their fears and sympathise with their disappointment. You may have to drop your points into the conversation over a time. You may be able to enlist the help of other, more sympathetic family members.

Don't expect a miracle - people rarely change their opinion overnight. Don't feel you have to have total agreement; stop the discussion while the going is still good and come back to it a few days later. If they see you're serious and that some of their worries have been considered they will probably be a bit more agreeable the next time.

This is obviously a very simple example, but a similar approach can help in many situations. Frequently the conflict can be the other way round; many families find a son or daughter leaving for university is the catalyst for them to make changes.

Sometimes it can be impossible to find agreement. If you are interested in discussing the situation further or if you find you can't use the techniques described in this simple example - maybe the problem is too complex; you find it too upsetting; someone is too entrenched - counselling with Counselling, Mental Health and Wellbeing| may help you to clarify what is going on and to find a way to deal with it.

 
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