By: Naz Ozaki, Ph.D., RP (Qualifying)
Family is an important part of your life; you grow within your family. Your family can be your greatest support during good and/or bad times in life. From the time of birth, toddlerhood, childhood, adulthood, marriage, as well as the passing of family members; together you go through life’s transitions. Along the way you celebrate accomplishments, school performances, entrance into high school and college, careers, and birth; as well as console one another over downfalls—illnesses, diseases, troubles, relationship issues, and losses. You count on and expect them for those times; same goes the other way around. They expect you to be there for them, supporting them, as they go through their life’s journey. Your family and you support each other individually and collectively as a unit.
For the very same reason, family can be your greatest source of problems and challenges. When either of your expectations are not meet or are neglected, someone can get upset, leading to issues. This can happen between parents, children, siblings, grandparents and so on, making things very complex.
You may have or been trying to do something about it, but every time you do, it leads to more arguments or distance. This is because in the eyes of the rest of your family you can never be “neutral.” Your behaviors with a good intention can come across as a threat or perceived as self-protecting. However; it may be, the miscommunication which leads to more and more problems. You are left alone and frustrated by their reaction.
Perhaps, one thing you can do isstart listening to their experience, without trying to correct them or disprove of them. As much as possible, you want to mean what you say and say what you mean. You want to come across as sincere and simply interested in knowing where they are coming from. Gradually, they may become more comfortable talking about their disappointments or anger. Those emotions need to be honored, because everyone is entitled to their own opinions. It may be they are feeling hurt or sad because of someone’s or your ownactions.These feelingsdo not always come through easily; it can be intimidating to share these raw and unprotected emotions.
Without coming across as attacking or blaming them you may also want to share your experience of the situation with them. Reflect on whether you are feeling angry, hurt, sad, or disappointments. In the end, you may find out that both of you share the same feelings. Then a solutioncan become clearer.
If this advice doesn’t work and you still want something about the way your family relates to one another to be different, contact a professional, like me. As a marriage and family counsellor, I am trained and experienced in working with yourfamily and yourselfat the same time. I will listen to all perspectives, while working with all members and youto explore different ways of relating with one another which mutually satisfies all.