Family issues are common. To paraphrase an old saying: we can choose our friends, but we are stuck with family. Plenty of people hate their immediate family for one reason or another. Parents, siblings, and grandparents may be mean, neglectful, rude, or abusive. These are all issues where you will need professional assistance to help you overcome the trauma, but what happens if there is a family fallout or one relative is not speaking to another? What is the best way to deal with family issues?
Families fall out for all kinds of reasons. Silly arguments escalate into major rows, in-laws and parents interfere, or one person is selfish and thoughtless at the expense of another. We are all human, but whereas you can walk away from a friend if they hurt you it’s not that easy to walk away from family.
The first thing to do if there is a family issue is to talk about it. Brushing issues under the proverbial carpet is never a good idea. Problems need to be aired and discussed, even if it’s uncomfortable for everyone. Ask a third person to be a mediator. This could be a friend or a relative uninvolved with the issue. Sit down in a neutral location and air your issues. Try to stay calm and focused. Avoid the blame game and do not let anger cloud your judgement. Even if you think the other person is at fault, it won’t help matters to keep reminding them of the fact.
Write a Letter
If a face-to-face conversation is impossible, perhaps because the other person refuses to engage, write your feelings down in a letter or email and send it to them. Try to stick to the facts of the matter and suggest ways you could both resolve the problem.
For issues that are more serious it is worth having some sessions with a family counsellor. You can go to sessions alone if the person refuses to attend. A counselor will help you work through the heightened emotions and teach you valuable conflict resolution tools. Professional counselors are trained to assist when conflict is causing emotional and physical distress.
What Not to Do
Never play one person off against another and don’t use kids as a bargaining chip; this will only make matters worse.
Nobody chooses to live in a dysfunctional family, but plenty of people have no choice. The good news is that growing up in a dysfunctional family prepares you for social work jobs in the future. There are many careers in social work for committed individuals, so if your family is seriously dysfunctional, look on the bright side as they could inadvertently push you into a career you were born to do.
Abusive families destroy lives, so if you are living with abuse or you suspect another family member is, seek professional help. You won’t be able to deal with this alone, so make your personal safety a priority and contact a professional counselor or law enforcement official.